It’s honestly hard to remember that the Mets were in the World Series less than three years ago. It’s true! It only lasted five games, but they were definitely there, and with their bright young core of pitching, it seemed as though they were destined to compete for the near future, at least.
Unfortunately, when you have a lot of bright young pitching, you also have the potential for a lot of injured young pitchers, and the Mets have dealt with plenty of that since 2015. Combined with a weak offense, cheap ownership, and a general run of tragicomedy on the field (batting out of order, various strategic miscues, and horrible innings) and off (the stadium caught fire like a week ago) and you have the 2018 Mets, five games under .500 and 7.5 games out of first.
Their underlying numbers aren’t quite that bad; Fangraphs, for example, still gives them a 13.6% chance to make the playoffs. But this season has gone so poorly (and the future looks so bleak) that the Mets are reportedly going to consider trading two of their top assets: starting pitchers Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
Despite GM Sandy Alderson’s recent comments that he is not thinking about a rebuild, a team source confirmed reports that if the season doesn’t turn around, they would listen to trade deals involving their ace pitchers.
“You’d have to at least listen,” the source said, “but nothing is happening now.”
DeGrom has been the only highlight to a miserable Mets season. Pitching to a 1.49 ERA over 12 games this season, he has been the victim of the team’s bullpen and offensive troubles, with only a 4-0 record.
Syndergaard is expected to come off the disabled list Sunday from a strained right index finger. He is 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA as he learns to adapt to hitters adjusting to his high-velocity fastball.
This would be a shockingly quick end to the Mets hopes of contending around their rotation. It’s been progressing that direction for a while now, including Matt Harvey’s DFA-forced trade to the Reds earlier this year. Moving Syndergaard and deGrom now, while they still have years of team control (albeit expensive arbitration team control) and while they’re reasonably healthy, might be the best and quickest way to move the franchise back in a positive direction, considering their payroll is weighed down with deals like “Jay Bruce signed through 2020 at $14 million per year.”
It’d still be surprising to see the Mets pull the trigger on one player, let alone both; blowing up your major market team is never a great look. But it’s even sillier not to listen, because deals like that really do have the potential to turn things around, if they’re handled competently and timed correctly.
Of course, these are the Mets, so deGrom and Syndergaard will probably both bend down for some gum in the dugout and slam their heads together in the dugout like the Stooges before any of this is relevant.