The Mets are “seriously considering” trade scenarios for high-end righty Noah Syndergaard, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). Per the report, at least six rival organizations are “real players” for the high-octane starter.
This is certainly an interesting development. There have been whispers of a possible deal involving Syndergaard, but the seriousness of the Mets’ intentions have remained in doubt. Now, it seems there’s reason at least for other organizations to dedicate resources to exploring deals.
Importantly, Heyman notes that the key for the Mets in any potential deal would be to “fill multiple holes with real impact.” That suggests, unsurprisingly, that new GM Brodie Van Wagenen will not be looking for lower-level prospects. And it also seems to indicate that there’s a rather high asking price for one of the game’s most talented hurlers.
As presently constructed, the Mets roster is built around a potentially outstanding group of starters — much as it has been for the past several seasons. That has not always worked out in practice, with health problems in particular posing a barrier.
With Zack Wheeler reemerging, and the market largely devoid of compelling arms, it seems the Mets may see an opportunity to get value for Syndergaard. Of course, that’d mean parting with one of the team’s clear elite talents while creating an opening in the pitching staff — one that would presumably be filled by Seth Lugo and/or Robert Gsellman, who could both compete with Jason Vargas to round out the rotation. It’s interesting that the Mets seem inclined to keep Wheeler, who’s a rental hurler that would also be of keen interest to the broader market.
The key question is whether the Mets will manage to get enough in return to make it worth their while. At his best, Syndergaard is on a short list of the game’s most dominant starters. Even in a relatively down 2018, he contributed 154 1/3 innings of 3.03 ERA pitching. Of course, injuries limited him last year and robbed him of much of the prior campaign. But Syndergaard also only just turned 26, projects to earn an easy-to-manage $5.9MM salary in arbitration, and comes with two more seasons of club control.
It stands to reason that the Mets would seek to land assets with at least some amount of control, rather than pure rentals, but also that they’d prefer players that have established themselves to some extent in the major leagues. It’s possible to imagine the club being intrigued by additions behind the plate, in center field, or just about anywhere in the infield. The bullpen is a clear need as well, though it’s tough to see a reliever driving a deal.
Making a volume deal that brings adequate will obviously be tough to swing. Teams with interest in giving up a big talent haul for three years of Syndergaard will, presumably, be interested in near-term contention. Those same organizations are, then, unlikely to be particularly keen to part with the pieces that would most interest the Mets. It’s certainly possible, then, that some kind of three-team arrangement could make the most sense, with the hypothetical team acquiring Syndergaard sending prospect assets to an intermediary that would in turn give the Mets what they seek. Potential permutations abound, making for an interesting thought experiment but also leaving it difficult to make anything approaching a reasonable prediction of the outcome.