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Aaron Nola, Luis Severino headed to arbitration hearings

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Scores of arbitration-avoiding deals were reached in the runup to today’s filing deadline. At the moment the best place to see all of them as they come in is probably MLB Trade Rumors, which has a running list of National League and American League arb-avoiding deals. More will likely trickle in as the evening wears on.

Two that won’t be trickling in, however, involve two of the best pitchers in the game. Neither Aaron Nola of the Phillies nor Luis Severino of the Yankees were able to reach deals with their respective clubs. Given what we talked about earlier today regarding teams going file-and-trial with these sorts of things, each of them can look forward to an arbitration hearing next month.

Nola went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 224/58 in 212.1 innings last year, finishing third in the Cy Young balloting. Severino went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 220/46 in 191.1 innings, finishing ninth in the balloting, a year after finishing third.

Part of what may have made reaching a deal difficult is that, historically, starting pitchers who are first-year arbitration eligible like Nola and Severino have gotten fairly low deals. Nola and Severino are quite a bit better than most firs-year arbitration pitchers and as such, there are not a lot of comparable awards out there on which each side can hang their hat for negotiation purposes. With nothing truly controlling to guide them, the the teams may have been shooting a bit lower than usual and the players a bit higher, making an agreement difficult.

Assuming there are no negotiations between now and arbitration time, it’ll likewise make for a couple of difficult hearings.

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.