Big news all around the NL East on opening day

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Only three NL East teams were in action on opening day. The Mets and Nationals were postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the Nats and the series will not resume until Saturday at the earliest. 

It served as an immediate reminder of the challenges that still exist trying to play out seasons amid the pandemic. There are reportedly two Nationals players so far who have tested positive. Under MLB’s 2021 health and safety protocols, an individual who tests positive has to quarantine for 10 days.

Huge extension for Lindor

On the eve of opening day, the Mets made big news by signing recently acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract. Pretty much every humongous contract signed since Bryce Harper’s has made his look even more team-friendly by comparison. While the total value of Harper’s contract is only $11 million less than Lindor’s, there’s a huge gap in their annual average salaries, which is the number applied to the luxury tax. Harper’s AAV is $25.38 million. Lindor’s is $34.1 million.

Lindor is only 27 years old and should have a handful of prime, high-level years left. He’s an excellent player on both sides of the ball. It’s still a massive amount of money. The Mets may still splurge on another player or player(s) after 2021 but they’re basically committing their superstar bucks to Lindor. Both Lindor and Jacob deGrom will earn at least $32 million in 2022, 2023 and 2024. The only team with more than one $30 million-per-year player beyond 2021 is the Dodgers.

The deal puts the Mets’ 2022 payroll at $128 million and that’s without Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, who are eligible for free agency after 2021. Key players Edwin Diaz and Brandon Nimmo will also get more expensive in their final arbitration year of 2022.

Shoulder issue for Sixto

Sixto Sanchez had his last throwing session cut short because of discomfort in his right shoulder. The news came a few days after Sanchez was left off of the Marlins’ opening day roster. 

Sanchez, the former Phillies prospect traded for J.T. Realmuto, was delayed arriving at Marlins spring training because of visa issues and also had a false positive test for COVID-19. As a result, he didn’t make his first Grapefruit League appearance until March 15.

The Marlins optioned Sanchez to the minors and were planning to have him keep building stamina at their alternate site. Now, he’ll sit for a few days as Miami figures out the path forward.

Sanchez’s career-high in innings in any year is 114 in 2019, a season he spent mostly at Double A. In 2018, his final year in the Phillies' system, he missed half the season with an elbow injury.

He was very impressive in the shortened 2020 season when he debuted in the bigs. In seven starts, Sanchez went 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA. Just like in the minors, he was difficult to take deep, allowing three homers in 39 innings. One of his best starts came against the Phillies in September as the Phils were collapsing. He allowed one run on three hits in a seven-inning complete game as part of a doubleheader.

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