Here's why Mets need to sign Noah Syndergaard to a long-term contract extension

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Danny Abriano
·4 min read
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313118648 NoahSyndergaardTREATED
313118648 NoahSyndergaardTREATED

As Noah Syndergaard works his way back from Tommy John surgery, with his recovery on track or a bit ahead of schedule (per Luis Rojas), the Mets could be looking at the possibility of a true difference-maker joining their starting rotation during the first few months of the 2021 season.

The problem? The potential return of Syndergaard during the 2021 season could be the last of him in orange and blue, unless the Mets give him an extension between now and next September.

The situation with Syndergaard is of course further complicated by the Tommy John surgery and the uncertainty surrounding how he'll perform when he comes back. But it can be argued that the potential reward of locking up Syndergaard long-term sooner rather than later far outweighs the risk.

Here's why...

The Mets, currently scouring the market to improve a starting rotation that did them in last season, have Jacob deGrom under contract long-term (though he has an opt-out after the 2022 season) and a promising young right-hander in David Peterson.

Beyond that, there is not one guarantee beyond the 2021 season.

Marcus Stroman will be back this season after accepting the one-year, qualifying offer, but his future with the Mets is uncertain beyond 2021.

Steven Matz, who could compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, is also a free agent after the 2021 season.

It is likely that the Mets will sign someone from the free agent group of Jake Odorizzi, Masahiro Tanaka, and Tomoyuki Sugano, and that any deal one of those pitchers signs will be for multiple years. 

But while the above would give the Mets one more guarantee in the rotation for beyond 2021, it still leaves them short. And unless one of those pitchers takes an unexpected leap or drastically outperforms their projections, New York will still be without a second front-end starter to complement deGrom.

What about Trevor Bauer?

The Mets certainly have interest in him and a signing cannot be ruled out, especially if the team misses out on top target George Springer and doesn't swing a trade for someone like Francisco Lindor or Nolan Arenado. But the Mets landing Bauer doesn't seem terribly likely at the moment. 

What about the free agent market for staring pitchers after the 2021 season? Well, it is devoid of a true difference-maker, unless you count Max Scherzer (who will be 37) and/or Justin Verlander (who will be 39). There's also Clayton Kershaw, who will be set for free agency at 34 years old. But it's hard to see him leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What about the farm system? The Mets have potential top of the rotation prospects including Matt Allan and J.T. Ginn, but they're years away. 

This all takes us back to Syndergaard, who is entering his age-28 season and was woefully underappreciated before he got injured.

No, Syndergaard is not deGrom (who is?). But all of the hand-wringing over how Syndergaard had not reached his potential seemed absurd a few years ago and seems even more ridiculous in retrospect.

From his debut in 2015 through the 2018 season, Syndergaard was quite simply one of the best pitchers in the sport.

Here's his ERA by season from 2015 to 2018: 3.24, 2.60, 2.97, 3.03

Here's his WHIP by season: 1.04, 1.14, 1.05, 1.21

In all but one of those seasons (2018), Syndergaard -- with some of the best pure stuff in baseball -- averaged roughly 10 strikeouts per nine innings.

Despite what Syndergaard did over the first four years of his career, it seems so much of his time with the Mets has been unfairly skewed by many because of an uneven 2019 season where he had a 4.28 ERA (though his 3.60 FIP was more indicative of how he pitched).

But where the Mets and Syndergaard go from now shouldn't really be complicated.

With a new regime in place, including owner Steve Cohen, president Sandy Alderson (who traded for Syndergaard in 2012), and GM Jared Porter, any past animosity between Syndergaard and the organization should be in the rear view mirror. And there are reasons for both sides to be open to a long-term relationship.

For the Mets, extending Syndergaard would lock in a legitimate top of the rotation talent to go along with deGrom as the team tries to become a perennial contender.

For Syndergaard, getting a lucrative, long-term deal some time between now and the end of the season would give him security as he navigates through his first year back from surgery.

But again, the timing here could be difficult.

It's fair for the Mets to want to see Syndergaard in game action before locking him up. And it would be understandable for Syndergaard to want to bet on himself on the free agent market if he comes back throwing flames and dominates.

This is a difficult dance for the Mets, but they have a potentially dominant long-term piece in Syndergaard. And they should do everything in their power to get him locked up before he hits free agency.