Trade Packages and Landing Spots for MLB Superstar Noah SyndergaardNovember 27, 2018
Trade Packages and Landing Spots for MLB Superstar Noah Syndergaard
Though plenty of teams would certainly love to have him, convincing the New York Mets to trade Noah Syndergaard won't be easy.
Mets owner Jeff Wilpon told reporters a deal "would have to be pretty lopsided" for the team to part with the 26-year-old flamethrower known as Thor. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, that means a swap that would "upgrade the 2019 roster and their system."
In so many words: The Mets have put an appropriately huge price on a pitcher with a 2.93 career ERA and club control through 2021.
It may take an offer of multiple major leaguers to get the Mets to budge. If they do settle for a prospect-based package, it would have to be better than what the Seattle Mariners got for two years of James Paxton: Justus Sheffield (MLB.com's No. 31 prospect) and two throw-ins.
Proceeding in order of their presumed likelihood to deal, let's discuss seven suitors for Syndergaard and what they might give up for him.
Both the Mets and Atlanta Braves are looking to win the National League East in 2019 and beyond. It's therefore hard to imagine either side is interested in possibly enriching the other.
Nonetheless, the Braves are worth mentioning because of all they have to offer the Mets.
Even if Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson are off limits, the Braves can still offer the Mets a solid package of position players. It could start with Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte (whose contract maxes out at $31.1 million through 2022) and extend to MLB-ready third base prospect Austin Riley, who ranks 43rd on MLB.com.
Alternatively, the Braves could load up the Mets with young pitchers.
A package of left-handed starter Sean Newcomb and lefty closer candidate A.J. Minter would outfit the Mets with two important pieces who are under team control through 2023. The Braves might also offer two of their three best MLB-ready pitching prospects—Mike Soroka (No. 20), Kyle Wright (No. 29) and Touki Toussaint (No. 40)—or some combination of all of the above.
Likely? Hardly. But stranger things have happened.
New York Yankees
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the New York Yankees weren't expected to pursue Syndergaard even before they shipped their best prospect to Seattle for Paxton. Now it's probably even more unlikely.
But like the Braves, the Yankees would have much to offer if they decided to get involved.
In light of the glaring need the Mets have behind the plate, slugging catcher Gary Sanchez might top the list. His 2018 season was undone by injuries and inconsistency, but he'll turn only 26 on Sunday, and his raw talent still commands respect.
Though the Mets would control Sanchez through 2022, simply buying low on him wouldn't be good enough to complete a Syndergaard trade. At the least, they'd also need to get back outfielder Clint Frazier, who's gone from being an elite prospect to a man without a clear future in the Bronx.
Another potential centerpiece is slugging third baseman Miguel Andujar, who just finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting. Pairing him with Frazier could suit the Mets. So could a package of Andujar and right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga, who's MLB.com's No. 66 prospect.
One thing's for certain: Syndergaard's triple-digit heat would fit well in MLB's hardest-throwing pitching staff.
The Chicago Cubs have a full rotation, but it's hard to tell who their ace is supposed to be. Bringing in Syndergaard would change that.
If anyone's thinking about a straight-up trade of Syndergaard for Kris Bryant, well, don't. Even if Bryant is available—which is a big if—that deal wouldn't make sense for the Cubs. Both players are controlled through 2021, but Bryant's upside has proved to be higher than Syndergaard's.
It would make more sense for the Cubs to base a deal around Willson Contreras, who's controlled through 2022. He'd fill the Mets' need for an impact catcher, and the Cubs could look to offset the loss of his bat by upgrading defensively behind the dish.
Since he's coming off a down year, Contreras alone wouldn't cut it for Syndergaard. Rather than throw in another of their core youngsters (e.g., Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ or Albert Almora Jr.), the Cubs might convince the Mets to take one of their many large salaries.
Jose Quintana could work. Including his 2020 club option, he's owed $22 million over the next two years. That's not bad for a quality innings eater with some ace-like seasons in his past.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers don't need another top-flight starter to pair with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. But after two straight losses in the World Series, they may not want to leave anything to chance.
The most interesting possibility is a one-for-one swap of Syndergaard and Cody Bellinger, whose step down from a National League Rookie of the Year campaign in 2017 still included an .814 OPS, 25 home runs and strong defense at first base and in center field. And he's only 23 years old.
That would make more sense for the Mets than the Dodgers, however. The latter would be selling low on Bellinger, and they'd be getting back a player with two fewer years of club control.
Instead, the Dodgers could try to get the Mets to settle for a deal based on top outfield prospect Alex Verdugo, who ranks 32nd on MLB.com. His swing is sweet, and he has little left to prove in the minors, but he's on the outside looking in of an outfield logjam in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers might pair Verdugo with catcher prospect Keibert Ruiz (No. 39), but they would more likely have to part with one of two exciting young hurlers: All-Star righty Ross Stripling or ultra-talented lefty Julio Urias.
After upsetting the Cubs in the National League Central, the best thing the Milwaukee Brewers can do now is double down on their rise to power. Adding the god of thunder to their rotation would do the trick.
Milwaukee's best avenue for a trade may be via one or more of three young righties: Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. Each is a former top prospect who's found a degree of success in the majors. To boot, each is controlled through 2024.
If the Mets were to insist on getting one of them plus some offense, the Brewers might not have much choice but to offer top prospect Keston Hiura. He's a second baseman who ranks No. 30 on MLB.com.
However, Hiura may not cut it for the Mets. He hasn't advanced past Double-A yet, and they may be happy with Jeff McNeil anyway.
In this scenario, the Brewers would have to try to interest the Mets in their spare parts. An upside offer of Eric Thames and Domingo Santana might work. Both have power and controllability. Santana isn't due for free agency until after 2021, and Thames is owed $6 million in 2019, with a $7.5 million player option for 2020.
San Diego Padres
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the San Diego Padres are just as interested in Syndergaard now as they were ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
That may seem odd, given that the Padres are a rebuilder coming off a 96-loss season. But they have more young talent than they know what to do with, and the time has come to take some sort of next step.
San Diego's preference might be to deal from the two deepest areas of its major league roster: catcher and outfield. A package of Austin Hedges and Franmil Reyes might work. The former is an elite defensive backstop who's controlled through 2022. The latter is a hulking slugger who's controlled through 2024.
Alternatively, the Mets could insist on the Padres' bluest chips.
To this end, top-rated shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 2 on MLB.com) is one of very few prospects who might be good enough for a straight-up swap for Syndergaard.
Otherwise, the Mets could demand San Diego's other two MLB-ready hitters: slugging catcher Francisco Mejia (No. 26) and sweet-swinging infielder Luis Urias (No. 27).
Lance McCullers Jr. is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton are free agents. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are due for free agency after 2019.
That puts the Houston Astros in need of a starter with upside and controllability. And given the organization's track record in unlocking such gems, the bigger the stuff, the better.
The hard part is lining up a trade for Syndergaard. It would be questionable of the Mets to buy low on Carlos Correa or George Springer. Alex Bregman would suit them better, but that would be a hard sell for the Astros.
Instead, the answers may like underneath Houston's major league roster.
The big chip down there is Kyle Tucker. He didn't impress in his first taste of the majors in 2018, but his No. 5 standing on MLB.com make sense when considering his age (21) and what he did in 100 games at Triple-A in 2018: a .989 OPS with 24 homers and 20 steals.
In short, Tucker is a budding star the Mets could plug in right away. If the Astros also included overlooked slugger J.D. Davis (who has a .989 OPS in 101 games at Triple-A) and young righty Josh James (who's a future closer at worst), they could have a deal.
Stats and contract information courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.