Every sport has a team that, no matter their situation, will always be linked with the biggest names in the sport. In the NBA you have the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks, in football you have Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City and in baseball, you have the New York Yankees. Even if these teams don’t need a player in a certain position, chances are they’ll be linked with them anyway. In these past few weeks there has been a lot of noise around the possibility that the New York Yankees could be trading a few of their young stars to their inner-city rivals, the New York Mets, for the two ace pitchers in Flushing Meadows, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets know that it’ll take a huge deal from anyone to lure one of Syndergaard or deGrom away from Queens, and many articles will suggest that both teams are interested – as Albert Chen of Sports Illustrated did – but there are a lot of factors that have to be in play to make this trade work. The Mets need to ask for top prospects, whether that be Major League proven stars like Miguel Andujar or Clint Frazier (Gleyber Torres is strictly off the table) and maybe some farm pitchers like Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield. Maybe even someone like Aaron Hicks just to sweeten the pot.
Sounds simple, right? Well, not exactly. The Mets know that the Yankees need good pitchers following the injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery plus the age factor of CC Sabathia and the shaky form of Sonny Gray, so they’ll be demanding the best deal they can possibly get. But who can match the potential Yankee deal? The Dodgers have good youth but aren’t entirely keen on trading them away, the Braves have a plethora of talent but the Mets won’t want to deal with an NL East rival, so that leaves the Yankees. But should the two try and smash out a deal?
Would it make sense for the Yankees to upgrade their rotation with two Cy Young level candidates? Obviously, it would essentially assure them of a postseason spot, but how would it affect their chances of taking on long-term free agent targets Manny Machado and Bryce Harper? At the time of writing the Yankees have around $15M to spend on their payroll to keep them under the $197M luxury tax threshold they promised not to go over. According to spotrac.com deGrom earns $7.4M a year at the Mets but is eligible for arbitration in 2019, although that may not bother the Yanks. As for Syndergaard, he’s earning just under $3M and is also in arbitration next season. Together the duo would only leave the Yankees with a $10M dent in their funds and would leave them with enough room to chase after a Machado or a Harper (or even both).
But the money isn’t the issue, the players that are being traded away might be. Miguel Andujar has an OBP of .340 and leads MLB in extra base hits for a rookie. He could potentially be the Yankees third baseman for the foreseeable future and Clint Frazier could be the ideal replacement for Aaron Hicks in centre field, meaning the two positions of the two biggest free agents would be taken by younger, cheaper stars. Will Brian Cashman go all in for Bryce Harper? Not for the reported $500M, I don’t think he will. What about Machado? That seems more likely, meaning one of Brandon Drury or Andujar will be made redundant, so maybe it could work?
Would the Yankees be willing to trade away one of their biggest young stars in a trade package for two all-star caliber pitchers in the hopes that they get the best third baseman in baseball in free agency? If Frazier/Hicks and Andujar were to leave along with Brett Gardner’s contract being declined, that leaves at least two outfield spots and a spot at third base needing to be filled. Brandon Drury can do the job at third base, Judge and Stanton will need another outfielder alongside them, and with potential no Hicks or Frazier, it could be tricky.
Any deal starts with Andujar, and both the Yankees and Mets know it. It’s just a case of whether the Yankees can soften the blow when it comes to dealing young stars or whether the Mets can get about four or five top prospects out of a potential deal. Should the Yankees try and get a deal done? Absolutely, because it could be worth the risk both now and when free agency hits. Should the Mets entertain offers? Well, if they’re not interested in signing deGrom and Syndergaard down to long term deals, they’ll have to start looking for offers. As mentioned earlier, not many teams have the type of talent the Yankees do when it comes to trade power, so maybe the two New York teams need to get together and hash out a deal, even if it’s the last thing Mets fans want.
The chance to rebuild your team with top level prospects and maybe a few veterans thrown in the mix? Sounds promising for the Mets, but it’ll hurt in the short term. As for the Yankees, they’d be stupid not to try and get something out of this. Even if it doesn’t come off, they should try and see what the Mets want. As long as it doesn’t hurt their free agency chances in the off season, anything is possible.