With Noah Syndergaard going down with Tommy John, suddenly the question isn’t who among Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha will make the rotation. No, the question now is who is up next in the event there is another pitcher injury or the need for a spot starter in the case of fatigue or other complication.
On the bright side, the Mets appear better poised than they did in 2019. On that note, that Mets team didn’t have to go that deep into their rotation as Mickey Callaway had a knack for keeping his starting pitchers healthy. He’s now gone, and now, there is the challenge of keeping pitchers healthy in an environment where pitchers ramped up to start the season, were shut down, and now have to revamp it up to pitch a season.
The first pitcher who may be up in the event of an injury is Walker Lockett. Lockett has a step up on the competition because he is out of options meaning the Mets either put him on the Opening Day roster or risk losing him off waivers.
The downside he presents is that is if he is in the bullpen, he will not be stretched out enough to pitch as a starter. The other complication is he has not fared well as a Major League pitcher. In seven starts and six relief appearances, he has an 8.84 ERA and a 1.885 WHIP.
Another Mets pitcher who has struggled in his brief Major League appearances is Corey Oswalt. Of course, the biggest issue with him is how haphazardly the Mets have handled him. One minute, he is pitching in relief on two days rest after a cross country flight, and the next, he’s not being used for over a week.
If you want hope for him, he pitches much better when on regular rest and used normally. Still, in 12 starts and seven relief appearances, he has a 6.43 ERA and 1.458 WHIP. That’s not great, but it is much better than Lockett.
Similar to Lockett and Oswalt, Stephen Gonsalves struggled in his limited Major League appearances. In four starts and three relief appearances for the Twins in 2018, he was 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA, 2.027 WHIP, and a 0.73 K/BB. After that, he had arm issues leading to his release from the Twins, and the Mets claiming him.
Gonsalves is a former Top 100 prospect who Baseball America once described as a future middle of the rotation starter who ” reads hitters well and works effectively at the top of the zone.” When healthy, he can get his fastball near the mid 90s to couple with a very good change.
The issue with him now is health, getting his stuff back, and developing a third pitch. With this being a new organization and Jeremy Hefner having familiarity with him, it is possible.
On the topic of potential, there is also former first round pick David Peterson. He has reached the Top 100 just once in his career, but he has progressed through the Mets system, and he has had a strong Spring Training.
While his stats the past two years do not appear strong with an ERA of over 4.00 in St. Lucie and Binghamton, there are other stats which show he has pitched better than his ERA. First and foremost, his FIP the past two years was respectively 2.98 and 3.19.
He has also maintained a very good strikeout-to-walk ratio while keeping walks to just 2.5 per nine in his minor league career. When looking at him, he is not a pitcher who is going to beat himself when he gets the chance to pitch for the Mets.
When he does pitch, fans will see what MLB Pipeline says is “Solid bat-missing ability and a knack for inducing weak, ground-ball contact points to more of a floor than ceiling for Peterson, but it might not take him that long to reach that potential.
Finally, there is Kevin Smith, who appears further away than Peterson after making just six starts in Double-A last year. Still, the 2018 seventh round draft pick has far outperformed what was expected of him, and with another strong showing in the minors this year, he may find himself on the radar.
Overall, the Mets have interesting options in the minors, and that is before we take into account pitchers like Franklyn Kilome, who is returning from Tommy John. In the end, the Mets are likely going to have to go to the minors for at least a spot start or two, especially with baseball likely having scheduled doubleheaders in 2020.
The hope for the Mets is these talented pitchers can put it together and put some very strong starts together when the Mets need them. Time will tell.
Today, the offseason is officially over, and Spring Training officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting to St. Lucie. Looking at the way the contracts are structured, this could be the last year this rotation reports, and in very short order, this rotation could be almost completely dismantled over the ensuing few years.
Jacob deGrom has a player option after the 2022 season.
This is what remains from a homegrown group which led the Mets to the 2015 pennant and brought the Mets back to the 2016 postseason. We have already seen Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler (on neither team) leave for very different reasons. Now, the Mets have to assess who is next.
Ideally, the Mets would be moving quickly to lock some of these starters up. After all, Syndergaard and Matz are coming off down years, and the Mets have a year of control to use as leverage in negotiations. Seeing how Matz finished the season, Syndergaard’s offseason workouts geared towards pitching better, and Jeremy Hefner already working on getting the most out of both, they may get very expensive very soon.
Like Matz, Stroman and Porcello are local kids who grew up Mets fans. We have already seen Porcello leave some money on the table to pitch for the Mets. Could Stroman do the same knowing he gets to pitch for his hometown team and his being born to pitch on this stage?
Sure, you could argue the Mets should be looking to maximize on the value of some of these pitchers on the trade market. At some point, the team also has to look to the future when pitchers like David Peterson, Thomas Szapucki, Matthew Allan, and others are ready to contribute.
The payroll obligations, along with having to pay players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have to be balanced. The Mets also have to balance that against building the type of team which would discourage deGrom from exercising his opt out.
Of course, the question is who exactly is negotiating these contracts. Not too long ago, we thought that would be Steve Cohen, and what many assumed were bottomless pockets. Now, with that deal falling apart, we don’t know.
Sure, the Mets say they are going to sell the team, and they are no longer going to insist on having control over the team, but we have seen this show. It has previously ended with deals falling apart, and the Mets moving to sell off minority shares as as short term fundraising scheme.
Long story, short, here, the Mets need to figure out their ownership, and they need to figure it out fast. There is a lot more riding on the sale of the team than the 2020 season and the ability to add payroll, if necessary, at the trade deadline. As noted, the Mets need to figure out the pitching staff for 2021 and beyond.
The sooner they figure it out, the better. Once they have clarity on that issue, they will know who exactly are trade chips, and how exactly the Mets can build the 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyonds World Series contending teams.
For a moment, let’s assume the 2019 season was similar to the 1998 or 2005 season in that it was a stepping stone to real World Series contention.
While we can and should dicker about whether the 2020 team will be better than the 2019 team, there is hope for optimism as Carlos Beltran begins his second act in a New York Mets uniform.
Behind that optimism is a cold dose of reality.
We didn’t know it in 1998, but that Mike Piazza led team had two seasons as a contender. That was basically the same case with the David Wright and Jose Reyes led 2005 team we all thought would be good forever. This will likely be the same fate this core faces.
After the 2020 season, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents leaving the team to try to scramble to either re-sign them or attempt to sign a starter from a free agent class nowhere as good as the one which saw the Mets lose Zack Wheeler.
After 2021, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That leaves the Mets looking to invest in four spots in the rotation over the next two years as the farm system is not prepared to provide that help in a way it could’ve if Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson were still with the organization.
Yes, we should see David Peterson grab one of those rotation spots, and a Stephen Gonsalves or Franklyn Kilome may emerge. However, they likely don’t have the same ceiling the 2015 – 2019 rotations had thereby eliminating the key competitive advantage the Mets had.
If you really want a heavy dose of reality look a year past that, and you’ll see Nimmo and Lugo will be a free agents, and deGrom can opt out of his deal. That’s going to happen as Alonso, McNeil, and Rosario are likely getting big arbitration salaries.
This means by 2022 this entire core could be completely gone with Alonso being the player designated to build around much in the same way the Mets opted Wright for that honor.
Overall, this means unless things change dramatically, the Mets have a two year window. That could be opened longer if Steve Cohen flexes some financial muscle, and/or he opts to bring in an actually qualified and competent GM to replace Brodie Van Wagenen.
To that end, there’s hope even if Jeff Wilpon will be running the show. On that point, we can all hope it’s just a title with no real opportunity to drag the organization down.
No matter what the case, it’s imperative the Mets realize this is their shot, and they need to start acting like it instead of making a series of half measures hoping it adds up to a whole competing roster.
With the Cleveland Indians getting a very modest package in return for Corey Kluber, it is very possible the team hastens trading Francisco Lindor. After all, by trading him sooner rather than later, you are maximizing the return you would receive in a trade. That’s important considering the Indians have already indicating they WILL NOT be re-signing the superstar shortstop.
In an attempt to figure out what the Indians could get for Lindor now, MLB.com worked out six potential trades including a possible trade with the New York Mets. The proposed trade had the Mets sending Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis, David Peterson, and Brett Baty to the Indians to obtain Lindor.
Shockingly, for some reason MLB believed the Mets may walk away with the deal feeling the offer is too much. In reality, it is likely the Indians would want more. Of course, that presumes the Indians do not see Rosario as a star in the making, or that they could see Peterson thriving in their pitching system.
Really, if this is it, the Mets should absolutely at the opportunity.
Lindor, 26, is already the best shortstop in baseball, and he is about to enter his prime seasons. As he enters those seasons, he already has two Gold Gloves (one Platinum Glove), two Silver Sluggers, and five All-Star appearances. His 4.7 bWAR this year was his “worst.”
Since his Major League debut in 2015, his 27.2 fWAR is the seventh best in the majors. Among shortstops, his 119 wRC+ is fifth best among shortstops, and his 55 DRS is third best.
When you break it down, Lindor is a legitimately great player. He’s a superstar, and having him on your team brings your franchise that much closer to being a true World Series contender. When you look at the Indians, when you have a player like Lindor and a loaded pitching staff, you can get to the World Series.
When you break it down, the only thing the Mets need to do what the Indians did in 2016 is to get Lindor. Yes, Lindor would matter that much to this team, and yes, even on a team with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo, Lindor would be the team’s best position player.
With all due respect, he’s a significant upgrade over Rosario, even with Rosario scratching the surface in the second half last year. That improvement is in the field and in the lineup. That type of upgrade lengthens the lineup, improves the defense, and it makes everyone better.
That makes having Jake Marisnick in center everyday more palatable. It allows the Mets to sit Wilson Ramos more for a much better framer behind the plate. It allows for a lot including the team overcoming some of their problems to become a real World Series contender like the Indians were.
Sure, we can argue the Mets need a bullpen more, a backup catcher, an everyday center field, or anyone of their significant holes. More than that, the Mets need the talent to take them to the next level. Lindor is that talent, and if you are lucky, the Mets will be in a position to extend him as Cohen grows in his power over the team.
Overall, the Mets need to do what they can do to get Lindor. While is is very possible to overpay for him, in all likelihood, it is quite difficult you could argue there is s way to overpay to obtain him. Even if you do overpay, you are still walking about with a top 1o Major Leaguer who makes your team better in every aspect of the game.
To that end, if the Indians are dangling Lindor, the Mets should do all they can do to obtain him because he is that great, and his acquisition is that important. No one should stand in the way, especially those mentioned in the mock trade. When you boil it all down, Lindor is exactly what the Mets need. Lets’ hope the Mets can find a good package for him.
With Major League Baseball’s GM Meetings about to begin, teams are discussing their very preliminary plans with the media. That includes not just a wish list but also the resources available to fulfill their needs.
With respect to the Yankees, a year after not going the extra mile to sign Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel, the Yankees are now expected to be going aggressively after Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.
For the Yankees to sign one or both, they’ll need to go past the luxury tax threshold. On that topic, Brian Cashman said there was no directive to stay under the tax meaning
As for the Mets, well, they were typically evasive, which is typically not a forebearer of good news.
When asked if the Mets had the authorization to exceed the threshold, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said the conversation will only happen if he needs to sign a specific player. Essentially, Van Wageneb said the budget and decisions are on a player-by-player basis before declining to answer any more questions about the payroll.
Keep in mind, that decision needs to have already taken place with Zack Wheeler being a free agent. If the Mets did nothing more than sign him, they’re going to be over the luxury tax. If we take Van Wagenen at face value, he’s telling everyone, they haven’t discussed Wheeler, a player who would justify going over that threshold.
In case you had delusions of grandeur, they were quickly dashed when Van Wagenen cited pitching prospect David Peterson as someone who could potentially pitch for the Mets early on in the 2020 season. You don’t even think to look in his direction if you’re going to re-sign Wheeler.
In addition to Wheeler, we know Anthony Rendon is a player worth exceeding the threshold. On that front, Van Wagenen said the Mets were set with internal options at the position.
Sure, you can more than justify Jeff McNeil there. What you can’t justify is J.D. Davis (-13 DRS in 500.2 career innings) or Jed Lowrie (8 PA). The invocation of Lowrie was made all the more hilarious when you consider this happened in the same impromptu press conference where Van Wagenen said they still haven’t diagnosed Lowrie’s injury.
If the Mets are talking about Double-A pitchers in the rotation and players who physically can’t play as an option for third, you really have to wonder if the Mets have any intention to spend. The more you contemplate it; the more you cannot completely rule out the Mets cutting payroll.
But, that’s where we are. Based on how the Mets have operated post-Madoff, we cannot count on them acting like a New York baseball franchise looking to win a World Series. Rather, we expect them to continue half-measures while failing to address the team’s real deficiencies.
Meanwhile, the very same Mets ownership who got caught up in a Ponzi scheme will grumble and declare the Yankees financial model to be “unsustainable.”
Keep in mind, that model is investing in the team and winning leading to higher attendance and the extra revenues which comes from postseason appearances.
Looking at it deeper, everything the Mets do in operating their team has proven to be an unsustainable model for consistently winning baseball games. You’d think this would cause them to do more than obtain Robinson Cano to emulate the Yankees.
They won’t, and once again, there will likely again be disparate results in 2020.
Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.
Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.
The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.
Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGrom–Noah Syndergaard–Marcus Stroman–Zack Wheeler–Steven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.
Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.
The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.
The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.
Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.
At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.
If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.
Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.
Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.
From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.
On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.
With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.
Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.
Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.
In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.
This past week I appeared on the Simply Amazin’ podcast to discuss a number of issues facing the Mets right now.
During the podcast I mentioned Anthony Kay, Ali Sanchez, Vince Coleman, Mackey Sasser, T.J. Rivera, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, Ryley Gilliam, Steve Villines, Andres Gimenez, Juan Centeno, and others.
Please click the link and listen.
The Mets loss on Thursday to the San Fransisco Giants took a number of twists and turns, and the immediate focus was how Chris Mazza gave up the lead from Pete Alonso‘s 16th inning homer. To his credit, despite blowing the biggest game of his life in what was just his fourth Major League game, Mazza stood there to answer the questions from the media. He received credit for it while others were chided:
After one of the tougher Mets losses of this season, there was a pretty stark difference between losing pitcher Chris Mazza, who stood in front of his locker and answered every question, and starter Noah Syndergaard, who bolted the clubhouse without answering any.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 19, 2019
At that point in time, you almost forgot Noah Syndergaard had started the game and was great in his seven innings. Considering the step he took forward, you could see why reporters may want to ask him questions as opposed to say a Luis Guillorme who was unnecessarily burned for an inane pinch running appearance.
The reporters couldn’t ask the questions because as DiComo noted Syndergaard had left the clubhouse. It should be noted this was not the first time Syndergaard left the clubhouse not answering reporters’ questions. The other time was after he had left his June 15 start with an injury. DiComo would note that as well:
Noah Syndergaard (hamstring strain) was in the clubhouse when reporters entered postgame. He took one look at us and bolted for the back room, pursued by members of the Mets' PR staff.
Through a team spokesman, Syndergaard later refused to comment on his injury.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 16, 2019
Now, there are a couple of ways of looking at this. First, it is Syndergaard’s responsibility to answer reporters questions, especially after his starts. While you can understand his not sticking around after an injury, he should have made himself available after a game he pitched, and he was not seeking treatment for an injury he sustained during the game. Really, no one should be defending him for not fulfilling this part of the job.
On the other hand, this criticism has been a one way street. The Wilpons have always made themselves unavailable for comment for all Mets related matters. It should also be noted DiComo has no criticisms of the Wilpons for their not being available to the media.
Similarly, DiComo has not criticized Brodie Van Wagenen for his lack of availability. When Sandy Alderson was in charge, he met with the beat writers before every homestand. For his part, Van Wagenen has abandoned that practice, and he has on multiple occasions declined to make himself available to answer questions about the state of the team.
With that as the backdrop, you can certainly understand why Syndergaard would publicly respond to DiComo telling him their relationship is now forever changed:
This is what you go with after a tough 16 inning marathon loss? Anthony, I have been nothing but respectful and professional with you over the years. If you had issue w me, talk to me in person like a man. This is below you, you’ve changed our relationship in 1 tweet. Congrats
— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) July 19, 2019
On the relationship between Syndergaard and the press, only they can comment. That said, to the extent it was poor at all prior to yesterday, it would be fair to characterize the relationship as not deteriorating to the levels it was between Matt Harvey and the press corps. Who knows now?
In the end, we should not be defending Syndergaard for not answering questions. That’s his job. However, we should also note how the criticism on media availability is very one-sided with the players being held to a much higher standard than the people actually in charge of the team. When people like DiComo are going to act with a double standard like that, they absolutely deserve to criticized in response by the players. To that extent, good for Syndergaard.
After discussing it most of the offseason, the Mets are once again in a position where they are talking with teams about Noah Syndergaard. There are smart teams with interesting farm systems interested in the Mets starter. Depending on the packages offered, the Mets could be very tempted to move Syndergaard.
One of the arguments you hear from some circles is you shouldn’t trade him because his value is at a nadir. With Syndergaard having a career worst ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB, this is absolutely true. Seeing studies and Syndergaard’s comments, it is possible these results are reflective of the new ball. The Mets having a National League worst defense doesn’t help either.
Reasonably speaking, you could anticipate Syndergaard to rebound and led the Mets back to contention in 2020. If you trade him, it’s difficult to imagine the Mets contending anytime soon.
Looking at 2020 first, it’s hard to imagine the Mets having that one year turnaround. With Syndergaard traded and Zack Wheeler gone either via trade or free agency, the Mets have two spots to fill in the rotation. That becomes three when Jason Vargas‘ option is declined. Even assuming Anthony Kay is ready to begin the year in the rotation, the Mets still have two spots to fill in the rotation.
Given the Mets budget and historical unwillingness to spend big on starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is difficult to believe the team could build a starting rotation good enough to win in 2020. Theoretically, the Mets could fill in the rotation by making Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starters again. However, this makes an already terrible bullpen worse, and you will likely be dealing with innings limits.
Long story short, if the Mets trade Syndergaard they will not be able to build the type of pitching staff which would let them compete in 2020. This means the Mets will have to look towards 2021. Notably, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz will be free agents after the completion of that season.
Given the uncertainty of the readiness of David Peterson and/or Franklyn Kilome to join the rotation by then, there is doubt whether the Mets pitching staff would be ready to compete by then. While this is happening, the Mets will be in year three of Robinson Cano‘s contract. That’s a consideration which needs to be accounted for when analyzing the Mets ability to compete in 2020 or 2021.
Realistically speaking, depending on the return the Mets receive for Syndergaard, the team will not be in a position to really compete again until 2022 at the earliest. With that being the scenario, the Mets should also be looking to trade Conforto for a big return as well because the team is not going to win before he becomes a free agent.
By that 2022 season, you will have wasted the first three years of Pete Alonso‘s and Jeff McNeil‘s careers, and they will be arbitration eligible. It will be the same situation for other cost controlled assets like Lugo and Edwin Diaz. This coupled with Cano’s big contract will once again infringe on the Mets payroll flexibility.
Therefore, the Mets ability to win in 2022 will hinge on what the Mets bring aboard in moving Syndergaard and maybe Conforto. It will depend on how quickly players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Ronny Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty can develop to help the team. While you can be high on them now, it is a completely different situation to count on them to develop in time to make you a winner.
That is the situation you are in if you trade Syndergaard now. You are beginning the dismantling the core to try to compete three years from now. If the prospects don’t develop the way you intended, or players get hurt, everything falls apart. As an organization, you have to ask yourself if that is really worth it when the team is really just a center fielder and 1-2 bullpen arms away from contending next year.
When you look at it through the prism of when the Mets could actually be in a window to contend again, the team cannot trade Syndergaard now. That is, unless, the team either starts spending now, or Brodie Van Wagenen proves himself to be much more adept at trades than he did last offseason. We shouldn’t be hopeful on either development happening.
Seeing how Steven Matz has struggles of late, the Mets were wise to put him in the bullpen until the All-Star Break. If nothing else, you don’t want a pitcher with a 7.36 ERA in June getting another start if you can avoid it. Preferably, you’d like to get him straightened out.
This is an opportunity for Matz. He has a chance to work on things. With his coming out of the bullpen one area he can work in is doing better the first time through the lineup. In his career, batters are hitting .260/.334/.453 off of him. That’s worse than his second and third time through the lineup.
That’s even more pronounced with him with batters hitting .298/.374/.645 the first time through the lineup. That’s a large reason why he has an 11.40 first inning ERA which drops precipitously to 1.20 in the second inning.
For Matz to be an effective starter again, he’s going to have to figure out these issues. More than that, the Mets need him to figure things out because they don’t have a Plan B.
It is expected Zack Wheeler‘s days as a Met are numbered. He’s a pending free agent, and short of an extension (don’t hold your breath), the Mets will be moving him at the trade deadline. Fifth starter Jason Vargas has an $8 million team option. Between his behavior and complete inability to routinely go five innings, the Mets are likely to and should decline his option.
That leaves two spots to fill in the rotation. If you move Matz out of the rotation, that’s three. The Mets don’t have the organizational depth to handle that.
Anthony Kay may or may not be ready, and he’s not yet in a position to be penciled into the rotation. David Peterson is further away than Kay. Mets haven’t seen enough from Corey Oswalt, and they’ve seen less from Walker Lockett. There are few and far between rotation options past them.
There are interesting free agent options, but the Mets do not operate with the type of payroll which would permit them to sign three quality starters. Based upon last offseason, the last thing you want is for Van Wagenen to swing a trade to fill out the rotation.
No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation if for no other reason than the team has no other options, and they have limited resources. Putting Matz in the bullpen may prove to be the smart move because it could help him figure out how to better handle batters the first time through the lineup. However, even if he thrives there the Mets cannot make this a permanent move.
That is, unless, they’re going to finally step up and act like a big market team. If that’s the case, all bets are off. Of course, we know that isn’t happening, so Matz must stay in the rotation.