Potential Landing Spots and Trade Packages for Noah Syndergaard
The New York Mets had the look of a World Series contender when they started the season 11-1. Instead, they've become a prime example of why it's a bad idea to put too much stock into a small sample size.
Since that red-hot start, they've posted a brutal 19-37 record and slipped to fourth in the National League East standings, leading to some early discussions of a possible midseason fire sale.
As Buster Olney of ESPN wrote last week, "Given the current challenges of the organization—the gray-beard age at the major league level, the lack of depth at the top of their farm system—they owe it to themselves to welcome offers from other clubs for [Jacob] deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, to at least understand what's possible."
On Wednesday, Bleacher Report's own Zachary D. Rymer touched on potential landing spots and trade packages for deGrom. Now it's time to do the same for Syndergaard.
While deGrom has enjoyed better health and is having an excellent season, Syndergaard comes with an additional year of team control, and he's been as dominant as any pitcher in the game when he's 100 percent.
For some context, the Boston Red Sox gave up a package of four prospects headlined by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech to acquire three years of Chris Sale. Anyone swinging a deal for Syndergaard this summer would acquire 3.5 years of his services.
So which teams might be willing to pay what will undoubtedly be a steep asking price?
The Colorado Rockies reached the National League Wild Card Game last season due in large part to vastly improved starting pitching.
There's still plenty of upside on the young staff, though Jon Gray (15 GS, 6-7, 5.89 ERA) has failed to build on a strong 2017 season to emerge as the ace of the staff. He's not the only one to blame, though. The unit has taken a step back, as its collective ERA has climbed from 4.59 (16th in MLB) to 4.73 (23rd).
The overall results of late have been brutal, with the team mired in a 4-12 stretch and quickly slipping out of contention in the National League West. A blockbuster deal for Syndergaard would be as much about 2019 and beyond as this season.
- SS Brendan Rodgers (No. 1 in COL, No. 10 in MLB)
- RHP Peter Lambert (No. 3 in COL, No. 94 in MLB)
- C Dom Nunez (No. 21 in COL)
- RHP Robert Tyler (No. 24 in COL)
Any trade talks with the Rockies have to center around slugging infielder Brendan Rodgers.
The No. 3 overall pick in 2015 is hitting .291/.343/.549 with 17 doubles, 14 home runs and 50 RBI in Double-A and could be ready to make his debut before the season is over. He'd become a promising young building block in the Mets' middle infield and batting order.
Pairing him with right-hander Peter Lambert would give the trade package two top-tier prospects.
Lambert, 21, is also playing for Double-A Hartford and has gone 6-2 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 78.2 innings.
MLB.com wrote: "Lambert shows the potential for four pitches that could be at least solid. His fastball sits at 91-93 mph and peaks at 96, and he keeps it off barrels with sink, angle and very good command. His tumbling changeup may be his most consistent plus pitch, though his low-80s curveball can be even better than that at times."
Rounding out the package with Robert Tyler, who has a 75-grade fastball, and catcher Dom Nunez, who flashed potential with an .821 OPS and 13 home runs in his full-season debut in 2015, would give the Mets a pair of lottery tickets.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have already used 11 different starting pitchers this season.
Clayton Kershaw (lower back strain), Rich Hill (blister), Walker Buehler (right rib microfracture), Hyun Jin Ryu (left groin strain), Julio Urias (left shoulder surgery) and Dennis Santana (right rotator cuff strain) are all on the disabled list, while Kenta Maeda has also missed time.
The starters' ERA is still a respectable 3.50—good for fifth in the majors—but there's a lack of stability with the starting staff.
Swinging a deal for Syndergaard, who is controlled through 2021, could give the Dodgers three ace-caliber arms if Kershaw can get healthy and Buehler can deliver on his vast potential.
- C Keibert Ruiz (No. 2 in LAD, No. 44 in MLB)
- RHP Mitchell White (No. 3 in LAD, No. 87 in MLB)
- RHP Tony Gonsolin (No. 23 in LAD)
- 1B/OF Luke Raley (No. 27 in LAD)
Catcher is a major question mark for the Mets. Keibert Ruiz could be the answer.
The 19-year-old is already playing in Double-A after hitting .316/.361/.452 with 33 extra-base hits in Single-A and High-A in 2017. A strong case can be made that he's the top catching prospect in all of baseball.
Right-hander Mitchell White also enjoyed a breakout 2017 season.
The 2016 second-round pick posted a 2.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 73.2 innings across three levels of the minors last season. With a polished four-pitch mix and 6'4", 207-pound frame, he has No. 2 starter upside.
Fellow 2016 pick Tony Gonsolin's stock has steadily risen after an uptick in his stuff last season. The 24-year-old is 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 77 strikeouts in 69.2 innings in High-A this year.
MLB.com wrote: "Gonsolin opened 2017 with an 89-92 mph fastball, boosted it to 90-94 in May, started working in the mid-90s in August and touched 100 mph by season's end. His secondary pitches also gained power and can miss bats as well."
Luke Raley offers raw power with a 6'3", 220-pound frame and posted an .848 OPS with 46 extra-base hits in High-A last season. He's also drawn high marks for his "grinder attitude."
Despite a more glaring need on the pitching side of things, the Milwaukee Brewers focused their offseason attention on upgrading the outfield. Lorenzo Cain signed a five-year, $80 million deal in free agency, and Christian Yelich came over in a trade with the Miami Marlins.
Jhoulys Chacin has been an excellent addition on a two-year, $15.5 million deal, going 6-1 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 15 starts, and Junior Guerra is enjoying a bounce-back season.
Still, this staff lacks a bona fide ace.
Jimmy Nelson showed that potential last season before going under the knife for shoulder surgery. He should return at some point in the not-too-distant future, but expecting him to return to his pre-injury form might be asking too much, and this team is in position to contend.
- RHP Corbin Burnes (No. 2 in MIL, No. 58 in MLB)
- 3B Lucas Erceg (No. 3 in MIL)
- RHP Freddy Peralta (No. 9 in MIL)
- C Payton Henry (No. 29 in MIL)
How much of the future are the Brewers willing to mortgage?
Corbin Burnes emerged as the top pitching prospect in the system and a consensus top-100 guy last season when he went 8-3 with a 1.67 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 140 strikeouts in 145.2 innings in High-A and Double-A.
With four average or better offerings, 60-grade control and an improved delivery that should lend itself to durability, he has all the makings of a staple in a big league rotation.
Pairing him with slugging third baseman Lucas Erceg and right-hander Freddy Peralta would give the Mets two more potential impact players.
Erceg has plus-plus raw power and a cannon arm, while Peralta turned more than a few heads when he struck out 13 batters over 5.2 one-hit innings in his MLB debut May 13.
Strikeouts are nothing new for Peralta, who punched out 169 batters in 120 innings in High-A and Double-A last year. He still needs to refine his command, but the upside is obvious.
Toss in catcher Payton Henry—who looks like a prospect on the rise with a .286/.342/.452 line and 16 extra-base hits in 184 plate appearances in his full-season debut—and this would be a competitive offer by a team that might benefit more than any other from adding a pitcher of Syndergaard's caliber.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have a rising superstar in Luis Severino (15 GS, 10-2, 2.09 ERA) fronting the starting rotation and ageless wonder CC Sabathia (13 GS, 4-2, 3.30 ERA) enjoying another strong season.
The rest of the starting rotation, however, has been inconsistent.
Sonny Gray (13 GS, 4-4, 4.98 ERA), Domingo German (7 GS, 1-4, 5.23 ERA) and rookie Jonathan Loaisiga (1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) make up that group, while Masahiro Tanaka (13 GS, 7-2, 4.58 ERA) is dealing with a hamstring strains and Jordan Montgomery (6 GS, 2-0, 3.62) is out for the season following Tommy John surgery.
This team has title hopes, and another frontline starter could push it over the top.
- OF Estevan Florial (No. 1 in NYY, No. 37 in MLB)
- RHP Luis Medina (No. 5 in NYY)
- RHP Cody Carroll (No. 15 in NYY)
- 1B/OF Billy McKinney (No. 16 in NYY)
Assuming the Yankees won't be willing to part with rookie infielders Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar, the centerpiece of a Syndergaard blockbuster would have to be 20-year-old outfielder Estevan Florial.
His full-season debut resulted in one of the biggest prospect breakouts of 2017, as he hit .298/.372/.479 with 43 extra-base hits and 23 steals in Single-A and High-A. He has some swing and miss to his game, but he's also shown plus plate discipline and has a chance to be an impact center fielder.
The X-factor that could help the Yankees acquire Syndergaard is Luis Medina. The 19-year-old is not on top-100 lists, but his ceiling is as high as any pitching prospect's in baseball.
MLB.com wrote: "Medina isn't physically imposing but has an exceptionally quick arm that repeatedly delivers 95-100 mph fastballs that top out at 102 and feature some cutting action. Both of his secondary pitches have a chance to be at least plus pitches as well. He has a power curveball with a high spin rate and a 90-92 mph changeup with splitter action that can devastate hitters, especially if they're trying to sit on his heater."
If the Mets believe in his upside, a package built around Florial and Medina will be tough to beat.
Rounding out the trade package with reliever Cody Carroll and outfielder Billy McKinney—two prospects who are close to big league-ready and could develop into quality role players—might be enough.
Carroll (21 G, 5 SV, 2.97 ERA, 12.2 K/9) is putting up strong numbers in Triple-A thanks to a triple-digits fastball and plus slider. McKinney (.867 OPS, 9 HR, 25 RBI) provides a good mix of average and power and is having a solid season, which he's spent mostly in Triple-A.