MLB appoints a new head for its Department of Investigations

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Baseball established its Department of Investigations back in 2008 following a recommendation in the Mitchell Report that it actually, you know, investigate PED use and other violations of MLB’s rules. While it was seen as somewhat toothless for a while, last year’s investigation and suspension of Alex Rodriguez and the other Biogenesis players showed that, when it wants to, MLB can go after its own with the best of ’em.

Maybe too zealously, actually. The bad behavior by the DOI has been well-reported. And, really, it was ultimately a legal and tactical strategy — not an investigative one — that helped MLB turn the corner in its investigation. Specifically, getting Anthony Bosch to flip when the league sued him and then paying his astronomical legal fees is what won the day.

All of which led to a house-cleaning at DOI. Back in May it fired several of the DOI people involved in the investigation and gave the Department a general shakeup. Now it has named a new leader of its investigative team:

Major League Baseball has hired Bryan Seeley to lead its Department of Investigations, Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today. Seeley will be MLB’s Vice President, Investigations & Deputy General Counsel.

Since 2006, Seeley has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. Beginning in 2010, he prosecuted federal white-collar cases as a Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section. In that capacity, Seeley led fraud investigations involving government procurement fraud, bank fraud, health care fraud, securities fraud and embezzlement, along with public corruption investigations involving bribery and kickbacks. From 2006-2010, Seeley prosecuted cases in D.C. Superior Court and U.S. District Court involving violent crime, illegal narcotics and property-related crime, a role in which he interviewed hundreds of witnesses and tried more than 30 cases.

A guy with that kind of background — and presumably the sorts of strong ethics possessed by most AUSAs — is a welcome addition.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.