As Winter Meetings begin, both the Mets and the Yankees look to improve... by using each other?
The most exciting time of the off season has arrived: the Winter Meetings. Every year, deals are struck, groundwork is laid for signings and further trade deals, and a clear picture of the market begins to emerge.
Every year, without fail, some kind of movement is created by the pinnacle of baseball off season, and this year it seems movement is heading the way of the Bronx, with a three team deal beginning to take shape, involving the Mets, the Yankees, and the Marlins.
Taking into account what you see above, lets break down how this helps each team.
The biggest movers thus far in the off season, the Mets seem more buyer than seller, after a rough 2018 campaign which saw them go 77-85, finishing 4th in the NL East. The clear strong point for this team has always been their pitching, and under new management, they seem poised to make big moves.
Parting with Syndergaard might seem like a tough pill to swallow, but at this point the message has become pretty clear: the Mets possess two number one starters on most teams in baseball, and they must part with one of them in order to finally compete again. Which, yes, means that the two headed dragon of deGrom-Syndergaard may finally have to disband.
However, adding a catcher like Realmuto could be a huge boost to an already improved lineup. And the Mets have other very serviceable starters who can at least in part fill out the hole Syndergaard leaves behind.
And as a Met fan, you can find comfort in this trade by looking back at Syndergaard's 2017, which was held at 30 and 1/3 innings due to injury. So maybe he is an injury liability? It is tough to say, with only four years of big league use in him, but deGrom has certainly looked like a safer bet, even if he is 5 years older than Syndergaard.
It seems that based on this logic, the Mets position is clear. They have finally realized that they are sitting on too much pitching, and they have become more open to dealing some of this talent in order to make a more balanced team who can compete for an entire season, and not just on days when either deGrom or Syndergaard decide to go a complete game.
What kind of production did these two offer?
While Syndergaard posted a 3.03 ERA en route to a 13-4 record, he also averaged 6 and 1/3 innings per start, a year after what I can somewhat determine was a partial tear of the UCL, the Tommy John ligament. A dangerous problem to have for a young flame thrower. Syndergaard also posted a 2.80 FIP, meaning he was certainly hurt by errors along the way as well, but then again who isn't.
DeGrom on the other hand posted an other worldly 1.70 ERA en route to a 10-9 record, averaging 6 and 2/3 innings per start. It probably shouldn't take much explaining to the average baseball fan just how great of a season deGrom had. Which is why I am even more surprised the Mets are willing to part with Syndergaard over deGrom.
DeGrom, age 30, is eligible for free agency in 2021, giving the Mets three years of team control, and three years of a guy with five pitches in the middle of his prime, a guy who has already established himself as the face of the staff, and maybe even the franchise. At least in 2018 he was for sure.
And after the meteoric rise of Harvey, followed by the complete plummet of what looked like a long term ace, I don't blame the Mets for going after the sure thing. And in Syndergaard, they are probably looking at another 3 years of development. Plus, who says they can't resign him in three years. They need deGrom to win right now.
It also remains to be seen just what kind of prospects the Mets lose in this deal. While the loss of some valuable prospects may not come close to the heart break of watching Syndergaard in a Yankees uniform, the return is what matters most.
J.T. Realmuto has proven to be one of the most promising catching prospects in baseball, in a year where one top of the line catcher has already been moved in Yan Gomes. For a little perspective, look at the year Realmuto put up.
The last three years have obviously been the best for Realmuto at the plate, posting three of his highest batting averages, while also achieving a career high in OPS for the 2018 campaign. The typical production numbers for Realmuto, such as home runs and RBIs wouldn't necessarily blow you away, but more than most catchers, Realmuto is an addition with the bat, rather than a liability.
While liability might be a strong word, what the Mets can hope for in Realmuto is a guy who can get on base at a high clip ahead of run producers like Cespedes and now Cano. He needs to be a rally starter, not a marquee big bat. And he obviously offers a little protection in a lineup that includes some older names such as Cano(36) and Cespedes(33), who can no longer be one man wrecking crews.
Last year, the Mets catcher spot was split two ways: Kevin Plawecki (71 games), who posted a 23% caught stealing rate, with a .7 defensive WAR and Devin Mesoraco (57 games), who posted a 21% caught stealing rate, with a .1 defensive WAR.
Apart from the fact that Realmuto put up more consistent numbers at the plate, he had a better caught stealing percentage at 38%, with a .1 defensive WAR. While Mesoraco was a solution gained by trade, his age (30) along with the fact that he is a free agent make him a less attractive option than Realmuto.
The benefit here is clear. Syndergaard could be a new 1-2 with Severino, putting two flame throwers at the front of a rotation that last year featured the Sonny Gray implosion capped by his smiling exit from a rather poor start.
With Sabathia on what would look like his last year as a big leaguer, coupled with the free agency of J.A. Happ, the Yankees have been front runners in acquiring arms, and Syndergaard would be the most legitimate rotation upgrade they have made yet.
But is he worth it?
In short, yes. The Bronx Bombers have no shortage of offense, and their revered bullpen looks poised for another solid year, pending the signing/loss of David Robertson, one of the lesser, but still reliable, options in the Yankee's bullpen last year. So really, when you wonder why this team did not make the World Series, all signs seem to point towards the rotation.
For Yankees fans, however, there should be a slight added bonus to this trade: the chance of throwing gasoline on a cross town rivalry that has never quite had the fire of a heated series, at least as long as I can remember, due in large part to the lopsided allocation of talent. To my memory, the Subway Series has always seemed to clearly favor one side, but with many of the off season moves, the series may just get a little more heated.
With the potential cross town trade of beloved Met Noah Syndergaard, and the Mets trade for former Yankee star Robinson Cano should certainly stir the pot and make for some exciting Bronx baseball.
What really needs to be said here?
The Marlins have made their position clear: Rebuild.
In Realmuto, they have a catcher coming into his prime way too early for the team he is on, making it more beneficial for the Marlins to move him while his value remains high. Plus, if this three team trade goes through, the structure could allow Miami to draw from a larger pool of talent, making their return more focused and fitting for where they are in their rebuild.
As a Miami fan, I can't begin to imagine the frustration of what would have been a juggernaut offense being entirely dismantled, two good starters away from being a World Series favorite, or at least a favorite to represent the NL. Unfortunately, the Stanton contract hampered their ability to improve beyond their current position, and the new management group lead by Derek Jeter has chosen to start fresh, in more ways than one (new uniforms and team branding).
It remains to be seen how realistic this trade turns out to be, but as the Winter Meetings progress this week, look for both Syndergaard and Realmuto to be moved, even if this proposed three team deal does not end up being the final result.