March 27: Syndergaard underwent surgery yesterday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in West Palm Beach, Fla., tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
March 24, 2:58pm: The Mets have formally announced that Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday. He’ll be out until at least April of 2021. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen offered the following statement, via press release:
After experiencing discomfort in his elbow before Spring Training was suspended due to the pandemic, Noah and our health and performance department have been in constant contact. Based on the persistence of his symptoms, Noah underwent a physical examination and MRI that revealed the ligament tear. A second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed the diagnosis and the recommendation for surgery. Noah is an incredibly hard worker and a tremendous talent. While this is unfortunate, we have no doubt that Noah will be able to return to full strength and continue to be an integral part of our Championship pursuits in the future.
2:41pm: Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter). It’s a rather stunning and out-of-the-blue development, as Syndergaard looked relatively sharp in Spring Training — three runs on five hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts in eight innings — and wasn’t known to be experiencing any notable discomfort.
The Syndergaard news is a devastating blow to a Mets rotation that looked to have the makings of a quality group. Jacob deGrom, of course, has won the past two National League Cy Young Awards and will return to front the staff, but Syndergaard had been slotted into the second spot in the rotation behind him. His injury makes last summer’s acquisition of Marcus Stroman all the more important but also serves to highlight the team’s inability to work out an extension with righty Zack Wheeler despite multiple attempts over the past couple of seasons. Wheeler signed a fjve-year deal with the division-rival Phillies this winter, though an extension prior to reaching the open market likely wouldn’t have proved as costly — particularly were it agreed upon prior to the 2019 campaign.
Beyond the combination of deGrom and Stroman, the Mets will turn to Steven Matz and rebound candidates Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha — both signed to one-year deals in the offseason. Porcello remained a durable workhorse for the Red Sox but was tattooed for a 5.52 ERA and better than 10 hits per nine innings in his 32 starts and 174 1/3 innings last year. Wacha, meanwhile, battled injuries for the third time in four seasons, spending time on the IL due to a knee problem and finishing out the year on the sideline due to shoulder troubles. Since emerging as a full-time member of the Cardinals’ rotation in 2014, Wacha averaged 24 starts and 134 innings per season.
The injury to Syndergaard will put to test general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s offseason comments about having “probably the deepest rotation in baseball.” After all, if any of deGrom, Stroman, Matz, Porcello or Wacha struggles or lands on the injured list, the Mets’ slate of alternatives in the upper minors looks decidedly pedestrian. Walker Lockett, Stephen Gonsalves, Franklyn Kilome and Corey Oswalt — the latter three of whom were already optioned out of Major League camp — are the top names on the 40-man roster. Veteran righty Erasmo Ramirez was trying to win a job in camp on a non-roster deal after enduring a pair of miserable seasons.
With Syndergaard out for all of the 2020 season — assuming there is one — the Mets will be left with only one year of club control remaining over the powerhouse righty. Syndergaard is owed a $9.7MM salary after avoiding arbitration this winter, and he’ll surely command the exact same salary for the 2021 campaign; virtually all arbitration-eligible players who miss an entire season due to injury are brought back at the same rate they’d earned the previous season (with the exception of first-time eligible players). And given the timing of the surgery, Syndergaard can reasonably expect to pitch the bulk of next season, so there’s almost no chance he’ll be non-tendered, barring some notable setback(s) prior to December. Syndergaard is slated to become a free agent upon conclusion of the 2021 season.