Could Mets get a Noah Syndergaard extension done using Lance McCullers' deal as roadmap?

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Danny Abriano
·3 min read
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Noah Syndergaard and Lance McCullers TREATED ART
Noah Syndergaard and Lance McCullers TREATED ART

When Lance McCullers Jr. agreed to an extension with the Houston Astros on Wednesday, two things happened.

The first thing is that McCullers signing in Houston long-term removed one of the Mets' best options to potentially replace Noah Syndergaard via free agency after the 2021 season.

The second thing is that McCullers' deal with Houston possibly provided a roadmap of sorts that the Mets can use to extend Syndergaard.

McCullers, 27, agreed to an extension worth $85 million over five years that will start with the 2022 season, per multiple reports.

The five-year deal locks McCullers up through his age-32 season.

While Syndergaard has more upside than McCullers, he is a year older and is coming off Tommy John surgery (whereas McCullers already successfully returned from the procedure in 2020 after missing all of 2019).

So while Syndergaard might aim for more money than McCullers received and likely deserves more, there's a case to be made for using McCullers' deal as a baseline.

Let's look at what Syndergaard and McCullers have done so far in their respective careers...

SYNDERGAARD

3.31 ERA (2.92 FIP) and 1.16 WHIP while striking out 775 batters (9.7 per 9) in 716 innings (118 starts, one relief appearance) over five seasons.

McCULLERS

3.70 ERA (3.29 FIP) and 1.26 WHIP while striking out 565 batters (10.0 per 9) in 508.2 innings (91 starts, three relief appearances) over five seasons.

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A key separator between Syndergaard and McCullers is that McCullers has eclipsed 128 innings just once in his career and has never reached 150 innings.

Syndergaard, despite an "injury prone" narrative that tails him for some reason, has eclipsed 150 innings four times, including a career-high 197.2 in 2019.

He also has better stuff than McCullers (and one of the best fastball/slider combos in all of baseball).

Speaking on March 1 while touching on potential extensions for Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto, Mets president Sandy Alderson brought up Syndergaard unprompted, and said that he expected to discuss a possible extension with him.

"Noah's contract expires at the end of the year. And so it would I think be natural for us to at least talk about and explore the possibilities, the options," Alderson said. "I expect that we will do that."

So what will it take to lock up Syndergaard?

Maybe the Mets can start by tacking on additional $3 million to the average average annual value McCullers got, and offer Syndergaard $100 million over five years. Syndergaard will almost certainly want more, but that seems like a fair starting point.

And how will the timing work out?

Would the Mets be willing to extend Syndergaard based simply on how he looks while rehabbing, or would they need to see him in game action? And if Syndergaard is still on a one-year deal by the time he returns (possibly in June) would he simply bet on himself at that point?

Additionally, how much might extensions for Lindor and/or Conforto impact the Mets' possible talks with Syndergaard?

When looking at the upcoming free agent class for starting pitchers (with McCullers now off the board), the best options could be Clayton Kershaw (who will be 34 years old and has already discussed retirement) and a 37-year-old Max Scherzer.

The Mets, who are facing the prospect of losing Marcus Stroman via free agency after this season, will need another starting pitcher for the front end of the rotation to go along with Jacob deGrom and Carlos Carrasco.

Taking the above into account and factoring in that top prospects Matt Allan and J.T. Ginn are unlikely to debut until 2023 at the earliest, the smartest play seems to be locking up Syndergaard. And the extension McCullers just signed could possibly help things along.