Trade rumors surrounding Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard have gradually grown louder and more frequent as this offseason has progressed. The latest of those came on Wednesday, with Fancred’s Jon Heyman reporting that at least six teams are thought to be “real players” for Syndergaard and that the Mets are “seriously considering” a deal if they can fill multiple holes:
hear at least half-dozen teams are believed to be real players for Noah Syndergaard. mets are seriously considering deals for him if they could fill multiple holes with real impact. will be one of the big winter meetings storylines.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 21, 2018
As late as last offseason, it would have been difficult to envision the Mets trading Syndergaard at any point for the foreseeable future, as he was a key member of the Mets core that reached the 2015 World Series. The possibility became more real as New York struggled significantly last summer, but even then it only seemed like something that would happen if the front office decided to tear down and start over. New GM Brodie Van Wagenen appears to believe that this group can quickly return to being a force in the NL East, but clearly he’s willing to go outside the box to achieve that reality — and that may include dealing a young, controllable member of the core in a bid to fill spots where the Mets have glaring needs; they have notable deficiencies at catcher, first base, and in the bullpen, and they could stand to upgrade in other areas. In contrast, they already have a pretty deep and effective rotation with Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jason Vargas set to return and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman also having substantial starting experience. If Van Wagenen can swing a Syndergaard deal, replenish other positions, and deepen the back of the rotation through free agency, that may be the way to go.
As he heads into his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, it will be interesting to see how much of a return the 26-year-old Syndergaard brings back if the Mets decide to trade him. He’s consistently been very good when he’s been on the mound — he has a 2.93 career ERA and 1.13 WHIP and posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.21 WHIP this year. But he’s been limited to 32 total starts over the last two seasons, spending three different stints on the DL over that period, and the partial lat tear he suffered in 2017 will presumably be a source of concern for potential trade partners. Syndergaard presumably has quite a bit more value than the recently-traded James Paxton, who is older, equally fragile, has one year less of club control remaining, and isn’t quite as consistent of a pitcher as Syndergaard. But with Paxton only having brought back one top-100 prospect from the Yankees (and starting pitching just flat-out being a less valuable commodity than it was a couple years ago), it’s questionable whether Syndergaard is so much more valuable that he’d bring back a Chris Sale-like return.
The Padres have been the team that has most frequently been connected to Syndergaard in the early going, but others that have rotation needs and could be logical suitors for Thor include the Reds, Brewers, Rockies, Giants, Twins, Astros, and Red Sox. The Nationals, Braves, and Phillies obviously are looking to compete and need starting pitching as well, though it remains to be seen how willing Van Wagenen will be to trade within the NL East.