The New York Mets are reportedly seriously considering trading star right-hander Noah Syndergaard this offseason. Not surprisingly, there is ample interest in his services, as the 26-year-old flamethrower is one of the top arms in the majors and is under team control until 2022.
But the Mets aren’t necessarily misguided for weighing their options. Syndergaard’s durability is under question after appearing in 30 1/3 innings in 2017 and being limited to 25 starts last season.
With a rotation including Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jason Vargas, the Mets could theoretically lose Syndergaard without damaging their hopes for the near future. Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is reportedly looking to add experienced major-leaguers (see: “lopsided”) as opposed to prospects. So, a trade partner won’t necessarily need to feature a top farm system.
While the full list of interested parties is likely everyone, here are five teams that would be good a fit for the right-hander.
San Diego Padres
The Padres have been the most aggressively linked to Syndergaard after emerging as one of the teams that targeted him during the summer. Their interest makes sense with a rotation featuring Clayton Richard, Joey Lucchesi, Robbie Erlin, and eventually Dinelson Lamet.
Syndergaard would fill the void atop the pitching staff. Wil Myers, who has already been the subject of trade rumors with the Seattle Mariners, could go the other way and serve as much needed first-base help for the Mets, but it would almost certainly not work as a one-for-one.
New York could also use some help at third base. Myers spent some time at the hot corner last season, but it’s not obvious that he can stick and may be better served to play first base. San Diego is in a position to deal from the farm system, possibly baseball’s best, but barring a surprise offer of Fernando Tatis Jr., that doesn’t seem to fit with what the Mets are seeking.
While it’s difficult to speculate on the exact pieces that could be involved in a trade, the Mets would have to listen if the Rockies brought up third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Arenado has popped up as a trade candidate this offseason, and he should tick off all the boxes that the Mets are looking for. Over the last four seasons, Arenado has hit .297/.358/.573 with 158 home runs (third most in the majors after Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis). The Mets have Todd Frazier at the hot corner, but he could be used off the bench or moved to first if Dominic Smith continues to flop or if Peter Alonso isn’t ready.
The two concerns regarding Arenado will be his impending free agency and whether or not he can hit consistently away from Coors Field. The glove will play everywhere, but he struggles outside Denver’s friendly confines. With that in mind, the Rockies may need to sweeten the pot with Syndergaard’s cheaper salary and three extra years of control. It won’t be top infield prospect Brendan Rodgers, but it could be speedy second baseman Garrett Hampson.
Syndergaard would slot in nicely atop a blooming rotation of German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, and Tyler Anderson. His arrival could potentially make one of them expendable.
The Brewers’ rotation was their Achilles’ heel in 2018, though they made it work thanks to a ridiculous bullpen. Things already look like they’ll be different this coming season with the growing likelihood of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes joining the starting staff and 2017 ace Jimmy Nelson eventually returning.
Why not cap that off by pursuing Syndergaard? This would take some creativity and could include re-signing Mike Moustakas and offering Travis Shaw plus others to New York. It would be difficult to bid goodbye to Shaw after he’s excelled in Milwaukee, but landing a possible generational pitching talent should make that pill easier to swallow.
The question becomes whether or not a player like Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, or Jonathan Schoop can generate enough interest to tip the scales without the Brewers also needing to relinquish top infield prospect Keston Hiura.
If the Brewers could cobble together a suitable offer that wouldn’t totally gouge their depth, they’d turn their biggest weakness into a strength rather quickly.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have missed the postseason in six of the seven years that Mike Trout has been a full-time player. And that one occasion saw the Kansas City Royals sweep them in a three-game ALDS in 2014.
Think about that for a second. The Angels have yet to win a playoff game in the Mike Trout era. That is a colossal disappointment, and the biggest culprit has been poor starting pitching.
Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch in 2019, either, so the current outlook is bleak. Finding a way to get a player like Syndergaard should be a priority, but the current roster makes that idea a difficult one to imagine. Kole Calhoun and Zack Cozart are individuals they wouldn’t exactly miss, but the Mets would laugh at that offer. Andrelton Simmons would be intriguing (Amed Rosario could shift to second base), but it would be shocking to see the Angels part with him.
Perhaps no would-be contender is in more need of Syndergaard’s services than the Astros, especially when considering the years beyond 2019. Both Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are free agents after the season, so acquiring a top young pitcher with control would help to curb the panic.
For the immediate future, Syndergaard would give Houston a legitimate trio atop the rotation with Lance McCullers Jr. out for the season while replacing free agent Dallas Keuchel without spending huge money on the open market.
Like the Angels, though, the Astros may be somewhat thin in experienced major-league players who they’d be willing to give up. With Alex Bregman’s emergence as an MVP candidate, could the Astros be convinced to build a package around shortstop Carlos Correa or outfielder George Springer?
Based on the criteria put forward by the Mets, that would be the most likely avenue, but the cost may be too steep. Springer makes more sense because they could bring up top prospect Kyle Tucker (and the Mets could move Jay Bruce to first base), while finding a Correa replacement would require more roster gymnastics.