If the price is right, the New York Mets should trade Noah Syndergaard before the July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline.
At 50-55, the Mets are in fourth place in the National League East and a long shot to make the playoffs, even in a robust NL Wild Card Race. Outside of Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, their offense has been underwhelming, their bullpen is a mess, and even their once world-renowned starting rotation has struggled.
In the offseason, first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenen spent a lot of money and made some bold decisions, such as trading for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz and signing Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie (who hasn’t played this season), and Jeurys Familia. The bulk of those moves have blown up in his face.
The time has come for them to accept the situation at hand and act accordingly, when it concerns trading their best assets, none bigger than Syndergaard.
The 2019 season has been a rollercoaster for Syndergaard. In 20 starts, the right-hander has recorded a career-worse 4.33 ERA and 1.26 WHIP and is on pace to surrender a career high in home runs and walks. He has struggled with his command, and, as a result, is getting roughed up.
Syndergaard was also placed on the injured list due to a hamstring injury back in June, which forced him to miss two weeks.
So, why in the world would any team want to acquire him? Well, when healthy, he has the makeup of an ace and is too talented to pronounce as “overrated” after a discouraging four months.
His fastball nears the 100 mph mark, can be overpowering, and he has strong control of the offering. Syndergaard has a consistent five-pitch arsenal, which includes a sinker, four seamer, changeup, slider, and curveball. When he locates his pitches, he can be unhittable.
Before 2019, Syndergaard, when healthy, was one of the best right-handers in baseball. The highest ERA Syndergaard recorded was 3.24 –which was his rookie season — and he was difficult to rattle. He has dominated opposing lineups and shaped a potent one-two pitching punch alongside 2018 NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.
Throughout it all, Syndergaard provides length. Even if he gives up four or five runs, he pitches beyond the sixth inning, saving the Mets bullpen. Despite surrendering runs at a career-high clip, Syndergaard is averaging roughly 6.3 innings per start. It’s rare to see a pitcher do as such under said circumstances in 2019.
The Mets’ problem is that while Syndergaard is extremely talented and has shown glimpses of greatness, it has come in spurts. Injuries have also plagued him. He was limited to just 25 starts last season, seven the year prior, and supposedly pitched through pain in 2016. That’s an enormous reason to have pause about keeping him in the fold.
You also have the financial aspect of this deal. For argument’s sake, let’s say the Mets kept Syndergaard through his contract — which expires after the 2021 season — he pitched to his capabilities, and hit free agency; he’s going to command a contract in excess of $20 million a season and understandably so. Top-line starting pictching comes at a premium. Just look at the move the Mets pulled off on Sunday afternoon.
In a bit of a stunning transaction, the Mets acquired right-hander Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays for top pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson.
After giving deGrom $137.5 million, taking on several pricey contracts, acquiring Stroman, potentially extending Zack Wheeler, and having to pay Michael Conforto after 2021, not to mention having to pay McNeil and Alonso down the road, do you think the Mets move heaven and earth to retain Syndergaard?
His trade value will never be higher than it is right now, as he’s under team control for two and a half seasons. There’s a chance that injuries affect him his entire career. If you’re the Mets, you can’t wait around and see if it will; you have to move him for a haul.
In any trade the Mets embark on for the right-hander, they have to be getting back at least two top-tier prospects. We’ll use a tweet from SNY‘s Andy Martino as a model. Thursday afternoon, Martino said that the New York Yankees would “likely” be willing to surrender top position player prospect, Estevan Florial, and top pitching prospect, Deivi Garcia, for Syndergaard.
Granted a deal is unlikely to take place between the two teams, as the Mets prefer to avoid talks with the crosstown rival Yankees, what they’d be willing to give up is precisely what the Mets should be looking for: a highly regarded young pitcher and top-tier position player prospect.
Will they get such an offer, or perhaps a little more from the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, or Milwaukee Brewers, among other teams in search of starting pitching? That’s the million dollar question. If they get far below it, or just one top prospect, then they shouldn’t swing a deal. The idea of trading Syndergaard is to get a near-king’s ransom while you can still harp on his upside and potential moving forward. Accepting a low-ball offer for the sake of making a deal would be foolish, especially considering how Syndergaard is arguably the best starting pitcher available on the trade market.
Before acquiring him from Toronto, Stroman was viewed as the top starting pitcher available via trade. With the Mets adding the Long Island native to their rotation, they could have leverage with teams in potential talks for Syndergaard, as starting pitching options dwindle.
The Atlanta Braves have a tantalizing young position core and are establishing themselves as a threat to win the NL pennant; the Washington Nationals are the hottest team in the sport and have a stout starting rotation; the Phillies are still finding themselves, but are a more talented team than the Mets.
The Mets are the fourth-best team in the NL East and been unable to put together a considerable winning streak. Teams who are faced with this dilemma act on their best trade assets before it’s too late. For the Mets, that means trading Syndergaard — as long as it’s for the right price.