The Yankees and Mets ignited the hot stove in Las Vegas at the Winter Meetings Monday night when word broke that the clubs were trying to work a three-team deal with the Marlins that would net the Yanks right-handed pitcher Noah Syndergaard and the Mets, catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Eventually, the smoke settled, as SNY's Andy Martino reported that the Yankees are interested in the Mets starting pitching as a whole (Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz would seem the logical options), and not just Syndergaard.
How would each pitcher help the Yankees?
The big splash
Yankees lost out on Patrick Corbin and have held discussions with the Indians about Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, indicating that the club is looking to add a high-end arm to the rotation. Syndergaard, who is just 26 years old, fits the bill.
Adding Syndergaard, who pitched to a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP with 155 strikeouts in 154 1/3 innings (25 starts) in 2018, is the type of move that would place the Yanks rotation squarely in the conversation of one of the best in the game. When the Yankees are matched up against the Red Sox and Astros, New York comes up short in the arms race as it stands today.
Syndergaard coming to the Yankees would certainly incur the largest outlay in terms of players in any deal, three-way or one on one. The Yankees would surely have to relinquish top prospects like Estevan Florial, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clint Frazier in such a trade.
The prospect cost would be worth with it with Syndergaard under team control for three years and estimated to earn $5.9 million in 2019 by MLB Trade Rumors. Syndergaard would become a pillar in the Yanks rotation along with Luis Severino.
More realistic options
Realistically, the Mets shipping Syndergaard to the Yankees of all teams would seem like a long shot. In that vein, a trade for Wheeler or Matz would appear to be easier to pull off.
In essence, the Yankees want to upgrade the rotation under the assumption that they will trade away Sonny Gray, which would leave an opening among the starting five. It could be viewed that while not of the ilk of Syndergaard, both Wheeler and Matz might present an upgrade to Gray in terms of production and salary.
The issue with Wheeler, who bounced back from a rough 2017 season in 2018 -- 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 179 strikeouts in 182 1/3 innings -- is that he would be a one-year rental. MLB Trade Rumors estimates Wheeler will make $5.3 million this season in his final arbitration season, which is alluring for the Yankees who need to spend significantly elsewhere. That's almost half of what Gray might make, and about $10-12 million less than what J.A. Happ, the Yankees' top free agent target might cost per season.
Since the Yanks would receive just one year of Wheeler (his age-29 season) and he's not considered "elite" like Syndergaard, it should be expected that the prospect cost would not be nearly as plentiful in terms of talent or quantity.
Matz, who is estimated to cost $3 million in 2019, would be an interesting angle for the Yankees. The left-hander pitched to a 3.97 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and struck out 152 batters in 154 innings (30 starts). Despite, the rough numbers, the potential is there and at 28 years old for most of next season, Matz can still make the upward swing that was expected of him. Matz is not a free agent until after the 2021 season, meaning the Yankees would have plenty of control.
As with Wheeler, the Yankees would not have to break the farm to acquire Matz. That said, he would seem to be the riskiest of the three pitchers.
While the chances are probably slim the Yankees snag Syndergaard from the Mets, if he is truly made available to them, they should move hell or high-water to do so. Syndergaard is the game-changer the Yankees need to take the next step. As for Wheeler and Matz, the former moves the needle more so than the latter, but if pursuits elsewhere fizzle out, each could represent a fall back option of sorts.