Trading Noah Syndergaard is a high-risk move for Mets

The headline for Mike Puma’s New York Post article reads “Brodie Van Wagenen can’t afford to make wrong Noah Syndergaard call.” But what is the “right call”?

That depends on how much Syndergaard is worth.

Only 26, he should be worth more than Cano and Diaz combined, and look at what the Mets gave away to get those two.

In his five seasons with the Mets, Syndergaard has pitched more than 600 innings, has a 44-27 record, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.59. Let’s see how those numbers –— and others –— stack up against other Mets pitchers, both current and past, after 107 games, which is how many Syndergaard has pitched.

In his career, in 106 starts, Syndergaard has pitched 644 innings. That is the 9th-most among all Mets pitchers after 107 games. And that includes the 2017 season when, because of injury, he pitched only 30.1 innings. If, in the 2017 season, he had pitched as many innings as he averaged in his 2015, 2016, and 2018 seasons –— just over 164 innings pitched, then for his first four seasons he would have pitched over 804 innings, which would have advanced him to the top of the list, replacing Doc Gooden who pitched 803 innings and moving him ahead of Tom Seaver, who pitched 799.2 innings.

In comparison, Jacob deGrom ranks 7th with 680.2 and Zack Wheeler ranks 12th in innings pitched with 631. So, Syndergaard has pitched 44.2 fewer innings than deGrom but 13 more than Wheeler. Among the other, current Mets starters, Steven Matz has pitched only 91 games with 87 starts and Jason Vargas played his first two seasons for Florida.

Syndergaard’s career winning percentage of .620 is 5th-highest among all Mets starters with at least 40 wins. Only Gooden, Seaver, Darling, and Koosman are ahead of him, with Gooden the leader with a .753 winning percentage.

Among Syndergaard’s teammates, deGrom has a winning percentage of .584. Wheeler’s is .535 and Matz’s .455.

Besides innings pitched and winning percentage, another measure of a pitcher’s value is strikeout-to-walk ratio.

How important is strikeout-to-walk ratio?

Kerry Miller wrote that

“Strikeout rate per inning has changed drastically throughout the history of the game, but strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio is a rather consistent measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness. Whether you’re talking 1889, 1936 or 2014, a 2.5 K/BB ratio is strong, anything better than a 3.0 is great and pitchers above 4.0 are just plain lethal.”

In Web article “Major League Baseball’s Top 10 Starting Pitchers of All Time”

In 2019, Syndergard’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.44 is 7th-best among all MLB pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched.

During Syndergaard’s career, he has struck out 697 batters while walking only 152 for a SO/BB ratio of 4.59. It is not only the highest among current Mets starters, it is the highest in Mets history for all starters with more than five starts. The 2nd-highest among all Mets is deGrom’s 4.15. The only other current Mets starter in the top 20 is Steven Matz, whose SO/BB ratio of 3.04 ranks him 20th.

Among past Mets with at least 100 starts, filling out the top 5 are Matt Harvey with a SO/BB ratio of 3.61, Doc Gooden with a 3.29 ratio, and Tom Seaver with 2.82.

When it comes to trade value, Syndergaard should be worth as much as Chris Archer.

In his first 107 games, Archer pitched 631.0 innings, 13 fewer than Syndergaard, had a winning percentage of .473, 147 points lower than Syndergaard’s .620, and had a SO/BB ratio of 2.90, noticeably lower than Syndergaard’s 4.59. When traded in 2018, for Archer the Rays got from the Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows and right-handers Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz, all well-regarded prospects.

Others also rate Syndergaard highly.

Tim Britton of calls Syndergaard “an ace-caliber pitcher under control for 2 1/2 more seasons.”

Abby Caldwell of the Blog Red Machine wrote that

“Syndergaard is already very good and will likely come with a huge price tag in any trade. . . . the Reds would probably have to offer up at the very least an outfielder such as Jesse Winker, probably a bullpen arm like Michael Lorenzen, and a top prospect like Jonathan India.”

In Web article “Cincinnati Reds: Trading for Noah Syndergaard would be worth the cost”

And then Caldwell added, “I wouldn’t be opposed to them making a deal like this at all.”

Adam Weinrib on wrote with regard to the Twins trading for Syndergaard, “they should make this move 10 out of 10 times, regardless of cost” in the article, “Twins Must Bite the Bullet and Pay High Price for Noah Syndergaard.”

If Syndergaard is traded, it will the Mets first major deal since the Cano/Diaz debacle, one in which Puma said the Mets got

“an underperforming 36-year-old second baseman, who is under contract through 2023 and a closer who still hasn’t shown he can handle the stress that comes with pitching in New York.”

Mike Puma in Web article “Brodie Van Wagenen can’t afford to make wrong Noah Syndergaard call.”

That deal, coupled with the Mets trades for Broxton and Font, has raised questions about the Mets’ ability to properly vet players, questions the organization has yet to adequately answer.

To prevent a fan rebellion, the Mets will need to get a return as good as the one the Rays got last July when they traded Chris Archer to the Pirates.

Finally, the cost of keeping Syndergaard must also be taken into consideration.

If he continues to pitch as well as if not better than he has up to the point when he reaches free agency (2022), can we really expect the Wilpons to meet his salary demands then, which could be for even more money than deGrom got?

If the Mets believe they can re-sign Syndergaard by the time he reaches free agency, they should keep him. If they have doubts, they should trade him when his value is high, which it is now. However, trading Syndergaard involves risk, one the Mets should only take if it includes multiple, highly ranked MLB prospects, with one preferably comparable in skill to the Padres’ shortstop Fernando Tatís.

Main data source:
Search criteria: From 1962 to 2019, playing for NYM, as starter, in first 107 games, (requiring IPouts>=3), sorted by greatest number of games in all seasons matching the selected criteria.

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