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Kyle Schwarber walks off to beat Rhys Hoskins 21-20 in second round of Home Run Derby

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In another thrilling round of the 2018 Home Run Derby, Kyle Schwarber walked off to defeat Rhys Hoskins and advance to the finals in the 2018 Home Run Derby. Hoskins hit 20 — surpassing his first-round total of 17 — but Schwarber was able to do him one better in regulation time.

For most of the round, Schwarber was “only” on pace to hit 17 or 18, but he got on a roll after using his time-out. He mashed about five home runs in the span of 30 seconds. With just a couple of seconds left on the clock, Schwarber hit his 21st home run to send Rhys to the showers. Of course, Schwarber had unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time since he hit two home runs that went at least 440 feet, so it was a formality. But to do it in regulation in buzzer-beater fashion was more fun than opening bonus time with the send-off.

Still an impressive showing by Hoskins. He became the first player to hit 20 home runs in the semifinals of the Derby, per ESPN Stats & Info. His 37 total homers are the second-most by a Phillies player in the Derby. Bobby Abreu hit 41 home runs en route to winning in 2005.

In the finals, Schwarber will face the winner of the Max MuncyBryce Harper showdown.

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.