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Latest on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper

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As the hot stove barely takes the chill off of this frigid offseason, let’s check in on the two blue chip free agents who remain unemployed:

  • Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Phillies are expected to make another offer to Manny Machado this week. We do not know what the previous offer was and, while one presumes that Machado countered or another team also made Machado an offer because only morons bid against themselves, we don’t know the terms of that stuff either. It all remains a mystery, but as Salisbury reports, the Phillies seem more jazzed for Machado than Harper;
  • The White Sox have reportedly made an offer to Machado. The Yankees too, though as Ken Davidoff writes today, it’s thought to be something of a lowball deal, at least in terms of contract length. Davidoff mentions five-years, $130 million, but it’s not clear if he’s just speculating or if that’s what someone has told him. Either way, it sounds like New York’s interest is good on the average annual value but poor on the length and guaranteed dollars;
  • Even if they are more jazzed about Machado, the Phillies have a meeting with Bryce Harper scheduled for this Saturday in Las Vegas. Unlike the Winter Meetings confab between Scott Boras and Philly GM Matt Klentak, this is an all-hands-on-deck thing, with the Phillies owner, team president Andy MacPhail, Klentak, Gabe Kapler and, most importantly, Bryce Harper himself. Know what? If I was interested in Harper, I’d probably let it slip to the media that I was more jazzed about Machado too for negotiation purposes. Just throwing that out there!

Given that there’s a Saturday meeting, it seems obvious that Harper won’t sign anywhere this week. No one knows with Machado, but given that there are offers out there, it could happen whenever.

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to have these third-degree hot stove burns treated. Just scorching stuff. Wear oven mitts, kids.

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.