The San Diego Padres appear rightfully in search of starting pitching. But gutting their farm system for New York Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard is not the answer to their pitching woes.
Friday afternoon, The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Padres are interested in trading for Syndergaard. Over the summer, the Padres were supposedly interested in the right-hander, and, to add fuel to the fire, SNY‘s Andy Martino reports that the Mets are looking at the free agent starting pitching market in the event that they trade Syndergaard.
The Padres head into the offseason in desperate need of pitching. Their starting rotation was 27th in Major League Baseball last season in ERA (5.09), and the Padres, as a whole, were 21st in the same statistic (4.40). Sure, Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer had some positive outings, but, overall, the Padres need to begin to establish a competent starting rotation. What better way to start doing so than acquiring a top-flight starter.
Syndergaard is one of the best righties and pitchers in the sport. He’s a strikeout machine, can hit 100 mph on the radar, and poses an overpowering presence on the rubber. He’s posted a career 2.93 ERA and has been a force to be reckoned with in the Mets rotation. With that said, injuries have plagued Syndergaard’s career and will continue to be a question mark until he pitches a full, relatively injury-free season. To this point, that hasn’t happened.Noah Syndergaard is freakishly talented, but the @Padres should not sacrifice their farm system depth to trade for the right-hander, @RPStratakos says.Click To Tweet
In 2016, he experienced and supposedly pitched through an elbow injury and was limited to seven starts the ensuing season due to a lat injury. Last season, he made just 25 starts, though he finished strong — posting a 1.73 ERA in his last six starts, which included three shutouts. But can Syndergaard’s encouraging September surge be enough for teams to feel comfortable giving up a haul for him via trade?
The Padres have one of the deepest farm systems in MLB, which can be beneficial, but could also work against them in trade talks. On one hand, they have the ammo to pull off a blockbuster trade. Meanwhile, the fact that they’re so deep in the minor leagues could give teams the gateway to demand more prospects than they would from a team with a mediocre farm system — essentially trying to take advantage of their youth.
Now, giving up several highly regarded prospects for a bonafide ace with a healthy track record is justifiable. For example, if Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, or Corey Kluber were on the table, there wouldn’t be any doubt as to whether the Padres should be willing to part with some of their most prized prospects. But the same cannot be said for Syndergaard’s services.
There’s no denying Syndergaard’s pitching arsenal and ability to dominate, when healthy. But it’s alarming for a young pitcher to have recurring injuries this early in his career for any team looking to add him to their roster, let alone pull off a blockbuster trade for him.
If the Mets traded Syndergaard, it would be hard to envision it being for a discount, or anything less than multiple high-end prospects. Regardless of his injury woes, the Mets have zero reason to sell low on the 26-year-old. He’s a vital element to the Mets prolific starting rotation and the well-being of their ballclub, as a whole; when he’s been hurt, the Mets have struggled. Syndergaard is also under team-control through 2021.
If, for some reason, the Mets decided to trade him for an underwhelming package, then the Padres should consider making a move, but it’s highly unlikely that scenario comes to fruition. As a result, general manager A.J. Preller could be forced to surrender big-names in the organization such as Fernando Tatis Jr. and MacKenzie Gore, among others. Such a trade makes little to no sense for the Padres.
The Padres are not a team in the championship hunt. They’re coming off a 66-win season (which is the fewest amount of games they’ve won since 2008 when they finished the season 63-99) and aren’t viewed as a free agent hotspot. Chances are their playoff deprived run will bleed on in 2019. Could adding an ace, or multiple proven starters, enhance their chance of defying the odds? Yes, but it’s not as if the Padres are a player or two away from competing for the playoffs. And given the state of their farm system, there’s little reason to alter the status quo for a trade that comes with uncertainty.
For the meantime, the Padres are better off signing a starting pitcher — or two — such as Nathan Eovaldi and J.A. Happ. Doing so could help their pitching staff pose a respectable threat. Last season, the Padres pen was sixth in ERA (3.53) and strikeouts (720) while being tied for fifth in opponent batting average (.230) and surrendering just 207 walks — which was sixth in the sport.
In the field, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of optimism with manager Andy Green‘s ballclub, as they were bottom five in nearly every offensive category last season. With that said, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot have been productive at the plate over the last two seasons and a healthy Wil Myers will be returning for Spring Training. Perhaps Eric Hosmer hits like the $144 million first baseman the Padres signed him to be, giving the Padres a middle-of-the-order force in 2019.
The Padres need an ace and a rotation overhaul, but Preller cannot let his disastrous 2014 trading spree repeat itself this offseason. Trading away top prospects for a talented, but injury prone starter is not the suitable course of action.