Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
When thinking about whether the Mets are better off with Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard long-term, it's important to first understand that the answer doesn't revolve simply around who will be better in 2020 and beyond.
For the Mets, who have been attempting to be more creative under new GM Brodie Van Wagenen (his megadeal with the Mariners hasn't yielded the desired results so far), the Wheeler/Syndergaard choice will likely be the biggest one he makes since that swap with the Mariners. And the impact could be even bigger.
Wheeler, 29, is under contract through the end of this season and set to hit free agency after. If the Mets don't trade him, they can extend a qualifying offer after the season. If he accepts, they will owe him roughly $19 million for 2020. If he rejects, they will get a compensation pick in next June's MLB Draft.
If the Mets do trade Wheeler, they could potentially get one solid piece back. But due to him being a rental player and his recent shoulder issue, it likely won't be much of a haul.
The news Thursday was that the Mets could try to extend Wheeler before he hits free agency and pivot in another direction at the trade deadline by trading Syndergaard instead.
The 26-year-old Syndergaard is under team control through the 2021 season, meaning there is absolutely no rush to trade him or extend him.
But according to SNY's Andy Martino, the recent combination of circumstances in the market (including Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner, and Marcus Stroman potentially being pulled off the trade market) has increased the likelihood that someone will blow the Mets away with an offer for Syndergaard.
With the Mets likely not interested in a long-term future with Syndergaard and the way the trade market is developing, the time to strike on a Syndergaard trade could be now. And the Mets should do it -- under two conditions.
The first condition is that the Mets sign Wheeler to a contract extension.
Getting Wheeler locked up before trading Syndergaard would be the ideal scenario. The less ideal scenario would be extending him between August and the end of October. But either way, it needs to get done if the plan is to move Syndergaard, who would bring far more back via trade than Wheeler. The Mets can't lose both Wheeler and Syndergaard before the 2020 season begins.
While Wheeler is on record saying that he's open to signing an extension before hitting free agency, he's also on record that he won't take much of a discount. So, getting him locked up before he hits free agency could be easier said than done.
The second condition is that the Mets only trade Syndergaard if they are truly blown away by an offer.
The Yankees offering Deivi Garcia and Estevan Florial won't cut it, nor would the Padres being unwilling to trade any of their Top 3 prospects (who are all viewed as being among the top 30 or so best prospects in baseball). And if the Braves are expecting the Mets to deal Syndergaard in the division, they will have to be willing to trade right-handed pitchers Kyle Wright or Ian Anderson (both viewed as close to the majors and having frontline potential) plus other prospects.
It will hurt the Mets to trade Syndergaard. It needs to hurt the other team, too.
While Syndergaard arguably offers more upside than Wheeler, it really comes down to this...
Are the Mets better off in 2020 and beyond with Syndergaard and whatever minimal return they might get via trade for Wheeler? Or are they better off in 2020 and beyond with Wheeler and the haul they get in return for Syndergaard?
As long as the Mets hold firm on their need to be blown away in any potential Syndergaard trade, it's fair to say that they're better off with the latter.
It's also fair to wonder why the Mets wouldn't simply extend Wheeler and keep Syndergaard heading into 2020. And it certainly wouldn't be a crazy thing to do. But that doesn't seem to be something they're considering.
So, if the choice is an either/or one between Wheeler and Syndergaard, the answer seems pretty clear.