Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Everyone involved insists that Zack Wheeler's shoulder injury is not serious, and that he will be back in no time.
We take that at face value, but there's still a problem. Teams previously interested in trading for Wheeler are now nervous about his health.
Perhaps Wheeler will return from the IL in time to pitch well and assuage those concerns, but the Mets know that the timing of his injury might hurt his value to the point where keeping him and making a qualifying offer at the end of the season is the smarter move.
The Mets would get a draft pick if Wheeler turns it down and signs elsewhere, and would get Wheeler back next year if he accepts.
There is a potential silver lining there that could leave the organization with a better chance to win in 2020. If Wheeler accepts the QO and returns on a one-year deal for his age-30 season (a real possibility, according to a person familiar with his thinking), it will free up the Mets to cash in on a Noah Syndergaard trade.
Despite his subpar season, Syndergaard still has high trade value because of his talent, and the fact that he will not be a free agent until after the 2021 season. The Yankees, for example, might consider discussing their top pitching prospect, Deivi Garcia, in a Syndergaard trade.
Garcia is nearly major league ready and could help the Mets next year. Earlier this week, Brodie Van Wagenen thought it was worth deploying former GM Omar Minaya to personally scout Garcia's Triple-A debut.
This isn't just an opportunity with the Yankees. As many as eight teams have called the Mets about Syndergaard this month, making it clear that his value remains high.
The Mets have indicated in public and private that they do not intend to move Syndergaard this month. One source estimated that he will make between $8.5 and $11 million next year, which is a relative bargain for a pitcher of his caliber.
But as previously reported, Syndergaard is highly unlikely to remain a Met long-term, making it logical to trade him with two years of control remaining. Once he starts next season, his value will begin to decrease.
As one rival executive put it, "One and a half years of control just sounds a lot different than two."
If Wheeler moves on, the Mets will probably have to keep Syndergaard for now. Someone has to start games next year, after all.
But if Wheeler accepts a Mets qualifying offer and stays? The 2020 Mets will have a rotation led by Jacob deGrom and Wheeler, and could add to that upper-level talent received in an offseason Syndergaard trade.