The New York Mets are going for it. It seems weird to give a team a biscuit for trying, but in 2018, it’s something to applaud, especially when it’s a team that didn’t contend the previous season. The Mets have already traded for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, and they’re in just about every single rumor that involves a catcher. Considering the talent they still have on hand, even after a 77-85 season, this all makes sense. Have a biscuit.
Writers are also spamming the meetings with Noah Syndergaard rumors, as if there were a way for a team to trade its second-best pitcher — someone who would be the best pitcher on about half the teams in the league — and somehow come out a better team on the other side. This does not make sense. Gimme that biscuit back, and feel the wrath of this rolled up newspaper. Bad team. Bad team!
But before doggie justice is dispensed, it’s worth thinking about why the Mets would trade Syndergaard. I’ve been so preoccupied with whether I could laugh at Noah Syndergaard rumors, I didn’t stop to think if I should. So it’s time to do a little thinking and figure out where this is all coming from.
What are the different scenarios?
They’re pulling a bait-and-switch
The Mets have an agent as their general manager, see. They’ve hired a bank thief to design their vault, which is kind of ingenious, really. Brodie Van Wagenen might be playing 7-dimensional chess, getting teams on the phone with a promise that the Mets will reluctantly listen to offers for Syndergaard, and using the talks to divine how different trade partners value the players the Mets could use.
For example, by drawing the Yankees into a three-way conversation with the Marlins, they can better gauge which kinds of prospects the Marlins are demanding for J.T. Realmuto, which allows them to fine tune their one-on-one offer.
Likelihood: 3 out of 10. The problem with 7-dimensional chess is that, like, you totally can’t see a whole bunch of the dimensions. Seems like this would be the elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption of offseason strategies and wouldn’t be worth the effort.
They know something ominous
I’m not saying they have a glowing MRI that can be viewed only with protective goggles. This Mets don’t have to be malicious in this scenario. But they almost certainly have a much better idea why Syndergaard has never thrown 200 innings in a season — and why he’s thrown 180 combined over the last two — than other teams.
Because he’s been hurt, stupid.
No, no, I’m talking why he’s been hurt. The mechanics of it all. He throws with a reverse umlaut that can’t be corrected, or something. They’ve spent thousands of man-hours looking at this, trying to extrapolate how he’ll age. Every report that comes back makes them think his mechanics will never allow him to become a reliable workhorse, which in turn would make him a bad candidate for an ultra-expensive multi-year deal. This might be the zenith of his value.
Likelihood: 6 out of 10. Seems rude to give this one anything higher when I’m pulling this all out of my nether regions. This is also something of an “appeal to authority” logical fallacy, in which the “authority” is the Mets’ medical staff. So.
(Now I’m picturing Mr. Met holding an x-ray up to the light in Fred Wilpon’s office and mournfully shaking his head. I can’t shake the image. This isn’t helping.)
They quietly think he’s overrated
I mean, this isn’t completely ludicrous.
Syndergaard has a 2.93 career ERA (132 ERA+). He might be underrated if you’re fond of FIP, which puts him at 2.66 for his career. When he pitches, he’s an unmistakable talent, even if he has a bad habit of missing in the strike zone with his fastball.
“When he pitches” does a lot of work in that sentence, though. That’s why Syndergaard’s most valuable season, according to Baseball-Reference, was worth just 5 WAR. He’s never been as valuable as Michael Fulmer or Tanner Roark in 2016. He’s never had a season as good as John Lackey’s 2015 or Marcus Stroman’s 2017.
This is all about the innings pitched, of course, and every other team sees this too. Except when you’re talking about Noah Syndergaard, you’re talking about a pitcher who is literally nicknamed after a god. He isn’t just an excellent pitcher, but the Platonic ideal of what an all-time great pitcher should look like. He’s tall and freaky strong, he throws 100 mph, and he has two different breaking balls that look like they were created with bad, unrealistic CGI.
Even if he’s never come close to winning a Cy Young, it’s sure felt like he has. He’s freaking Thor, man. Every team should be frantically trying to acquire him. He’s the god of thunder and/or power stuff.
And maybe the Mets can extract an 8-WAR price for their 5-WAR pitcher and let another team wait for the ultimate breakthrough.
Likelihood: 5 out of 10. This seems a little off. If this is Syndergaard’s ceiling, it’s still going to be hard for the Mets to get better without it next season.
This is not Syndergaard’s ceiling.
They’re scarred by Matt Harvey’s quick decline
As in, they would like to diversify their investments a little and move some from the “pitcher” pile to the “hitter” pile. It’s not a completely silly idea, considering the average shelf life of power pitchers. If the Mets are relatively confident in their ability to develop more pitchers or acquire them in the open market, this would be a way for them to follow the old Branch Rickey philosophy that it’s better to trade someone a year too early rather than a year too late.
The Mets could trade Syndergaard in some sort of deal that nets them an all-star under several years of team control, like Realmuto, along with some boffo prospects to help replace what they gave up in the Robinson Cano deal. Then they could go out and sign someone like Dallas Keuchel.
Still, there really is a way to trade Syndergaard and still come away with a team that projects to be even better, both for the short and long term. It’ll just take a little money and creativity.
You know how the Mets like to spend money.
It’s still 2000, right?
Heck yeah, it is. I have my hair back and everything. This is great.
Likelihood: 4 out of 10. I don’t think it’s smart to use Matt Harvey as a comparison for anything, and my sources have informed me that the Mets actually aren’t likely to spend a lot of money. My sources are an internet connection, a computer, and the last several years.
They’re going to slip on a puddle of Mets and fall into the Mets and, oh god, there will be Mets everywhere, oh, the humanity
Likelihood: 8 out of 10. I mean, we’re all thinking it. Even with a new regime and an admirable commitment to winning instead of rebuilding, it’s like watching a scene where the clumsy French waiter starts meticulously arranging plates in his arms. There’s gotta be a payoff. He’s not just going to deliver the plates calmly to his diners, right?
The Mets aren’t seriously thinking about moving Noah Syndergaard. They’re talking about all sorts of wild scenarios because that’s what teams do at the Winter Meetings, and they’re just worse about letting the wild scenarios escape into the wild than other teams
Yeah, this is probably it.
Likelihood: 10 out of 10. We’re just a bunch of lab rats, all of us, waiting for the buzzer to sound so we can get a little rumor pellet to nibble on.
Still, there are Noah Syndergaard rumors out there, which means it’s an obligation to discuss them. They’re just so much fun. A deal is supremely unlikely, considering the Mets’ newfound commitment to their win-now window, but there’s at least a chance that they’ll do something bold.
This might be the best rumor of the Winter Meetings, so savor it. It might also be the silliest rumor, but considering how slow the week has been, I’ll use that as a synonym for “best.”