Kyle Seager, Mariners close to $100 million extension

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Third baseman Kyle Seager and the Mariners are on the verge of agreeing to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Seager has emerged as one of MLB’s best all-around third basemen at age 27, combining Gold Glove-winning defense with 25-homer power despite calling pitcher-friendly Safeco Field home.

He’s arbitration eligible for the first time in 2015 and under team control through 2017, so a seven-year contract would cover his three arbitration-eligible seasons and buy out his first four years of free agency.

Among all MLB third basemen from 2012-2014 he ranks fifth in Wins Above Replacement, sandwiched in between Chase Headley and Evan Longoria. A seven-year deal would put him under the Mariners’ control through age 33.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.