Nolan Arenado
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Nolan Arenado and the Rockies are $6 million apart in arbitration

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Nolan Arenado and the Rockies are currently $6 million apart in arbitration figures. Arenado asked for $30 million, while the club countered with $24 million. Rosenthal adds that even if Arenado is awarded the lower number, he’ll eclipse Josh Donaldson‘s record-breaking $23 million deal with the highest single-season salary figure to be awarded in arbitration.

Arenado, 27, certainly has the skillset to back up such a big ask. The 2018 season marked his fourth consecutive All-Star campaign, and he took home a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger after batting a robust .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, 110 RBI, a .935 OPS, and career-best 5.7 fWAR through 673 PA. On defense, he finished third among all qualified major-league third baseman, outpaced only by the Athletics’ fellow Gold Glover Matt Chapman and the Mariners’ Kyle Seager.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan cites sources that say the two sides are likely to resolve matters in advance of any mandatory arbitration hearing. Of course, there’s more to consider here than Arenado’s immediate value to the Rockies. Thomas Harding of points out that a “multi-year contract is the goal,” though Colorado could be waiting on free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign elsewhere so that they have a more definite valuation for their slugger. It’s also possible, of course, that Arenado will eschew a long-term deal in order to test the open market when he enters free agency in 2020.

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’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.