San Diego were linked with Syndergaard around the non-waiver trade deadline, but Rosenthal reports that the negotiations are more aggressive this time round. The Padres have one of the best farm systems in baseball. They have the young talent to get a deal done with the Mets, and are clearly on the lookout for an ace who can lead them back to contention in the National League West.
It makes a lot of sense for the Padres. Syndergaard is one of the best pitchers in baseball, boasting a sub-3.00 career ERA and he’s only recently turned 26. The towering right-hander is under three more years of club control and MLB Trade Rumours predicts he will earn under $6 million in 2019. That’s a bargain in Major League Baseball terms.
The downside is that the Padres have targeted 2020 as their year to contend. Syndergaard’s 2019 season will almost be wasted on a Padres team that is likely to struggle again. Like all Mets pitchers, durability is a concern too. He made 25 starts this season, but just seven in 2017. Then again, that salary outweighs injury concerns when you consider the cost of a free agent starter of Syndergaard’s standard.
The prospect price will be very high for Syndergaard. His health might not be reliable, but when he gets on the mound he’s as dominant as anyone. While his strikeouts dipped in 2018, his ERA was still 3.03, which is over a run lower than any Padres starter. The Mets would command multiple high-end prospects, and so they should.
How do the Mets approach this offseason?
It’s impossible to tell where the Mets go from here. New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will not be able to spend like several other National League teams this offseason but a fire sale is unlikely.
Trading Syndergaard and keeping Jacob deGrom – who could sign a massive contract in the near future – seems like a risky fence-sit. New York have their hands tied with some awful contracts, their best bet might be to hope that some of their veterans can turn it around in 2019. They have a young core that should only get better. Pair that with deGrom, Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler and they might be on to something, especially if Todd Frazier and/or Jay Bruce improve.
Restocking the farm by dealing Syndergaard is tempting for any team that have won 70 and 77 games in the last two seasons. Van Wagenen might see it as a way to remain competitive now and improve their chances in 2021 and beyond. It’s a risky business, though, and increases the chances that the Mets end up in the limbo of semi-competitiveness. That might be the best solution in the expectant New York, of course, but breaking up a front three as good as that trio is a hard sell to any fan base.
The Mets are in a tricky spot. With Syndergaard, they might be a piece or two from competing themselves next season. Without him, the predicament worsens, particularly if they opt to give deGrom the bumper contract he deserves. Once again it comes down to how willing ownership are to spend.