With six days to go until the July 31 trade deadline, the Mets could be about to throw a curveball, with New York exploring the possibility of signing Zack Wheeler to a contract extension and trading Noah Syndergaard instead, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
It had been widely expected that the Mets would deal Wheeler before July 31.
Rosenthal did not specify whether the Mets would push to move Syndergaard before the deadline or wait until the offseason to trade him.
SNY's Andy Martino has been reporting that the Mets are open to keeping Wheeler (potentially by extending the qualifying offer for the 2020 season) and trading Syndergaard.
Maritno reported on Wednesday that the Yankees, Astros Padres, and Brewers are among the teams interested in Syndergaard, who was being scouted heavily during his start at Citi Field on Wednesday night.
The Mets also had discussions about trading Syndergaard last offseason, with Martino reporting at the time that they were having talks with the Yankees and other teams.
While Wheeler is currently set to hit free agency after the season, Syndergaard is under team control through the 2021 season -- making him a much more valuable trade chip. That would also likely make him the most sought-after starting pitcher on the market if the Mets decide to deal him before the deadline.
Both Wheeler and Syndergaard are having relatively down years, but a look at their advanced numbers tells a different story than their ERA.
Wheeler, 29, has a 4.69 ERA, but his 3.66 FIP suggests he has been much better than his ERA indicates. He is also striking out a career-best 9.83 per 9 and his 1.28 WHIP is right around his career norm.
Syndergaard 26, has also been better than his 4.33 ERA indicates, with a FIP of 3.64 while his strikeout rate, WHIP, and walk rate are all around his career averages.
The Mets would need a huge haul in return to justify trading Syndergaard. And if they're planning to contend in 2020 -- as Brodie Van Wagenen has said -- you would think at least one of the players they get back has to be ready to make an impact in the majors by then.
Trading Syndergaard would be a tough pill to swallow. But if the Mets hit a home run on the trade and keep Wheeler, they will arguably be better off in 2020 and beyond.