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2018-19 Position-by-position Free Agent Preview

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The kickoff for the 2018-19 free agency extravaganza will most likely come some time this afternoon when Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers decide his future. He has until 4PM to exercise his opt-out clause and become a free agent. All signs at the moment, however, point to him remaining with Los Angeles. We’ll know soon enough.

This year’s free agent class is a whole heck of a lot more interesting than a maybe-free-agent Kershaw. Indeed, it’s a better free agent class than we’ve seen in several years.

Earlier this week we looked at the upcoming free agent signing period on a position-by-position basis with an eye on who’s available, who’s shopping and what might go down between tomorrow and, well, when everyone signs.

For those who missed it, here are those installments:

In addition to those overviews, you should go read Matthew Pouliot’s annual rundown of the top 111 free agents available for a truly detailed look at what’s out there. Bookmark that one, as it’ll be a handy dandy reference for you all winter long. “Wait, my team signed . . . Brad Bach? What am I supposed to think about that?” Well, that’s what that article is for.

And, as we have for the past nine offseasons, check in with us constantly this winter as we’ll be posting about, and talking about, free agent signings soon after they happen.

Happy Hot Stove Season, everyone.

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.