Several ways Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard’s free agency could play out

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Noah Syndergaard TREATED ART spring training 2021 three panels
Noah Syndergaard TREATED ART spring training 2021 three panels

While anyone with a heartbeat feels for Noah Syndergaard after hearing that he will miss at least several more months while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the news could have been far worse.

The Mets said that an MRI on Syndergaard revealed right elbow inflammation, but no structural damage. He will be shut down for six weeks, which means that he won’t pitch in the big leagues for at least three more months.

But behind the immediate disappointment, there was surely some relief in Syndergaard’s camp that the injury wasn’t more serious.

After all, Syndergaard’s velocity took an alarming dip during his abbreviated rehab start on Tuesday. According to Ryan Finkelstein of Metsmerized, who was on site, Syndergaard’s first fastball was 95 mph -- already below what he had been throwing lately -- and his final one was 92 mph.

Fortunately, there is nothing new wrong with the elbow, other than an issue that is common during a Tommy John recovery. Unfortunately, Syndergaard will be returning in late August -- at best -- in his free agent walk year.

His health and performance at the end of the season will go a long way toward determining his current value and future with the Mets organization. It’s too early to reliably report on how this will play out.

Heading into the offseason, Syndergaard will be a difficult pitcher for clubs to value -- just 29 years old, supremely talented, but absent from the game for the better part of two years.

Here are a few ways it could play out...

The Mets extend a qualifying offer to Syndergaard

This is hard to imagine, because it would guarantee Syndergaard upwards of $20 million next year. Compare that to Corey Kluber, whose Cy Young peak was much higher than Syndergaard’s and who also missed the better part of two seasons. Kluber snagged a one-year, $11 million deal from the Yankees.

The Mets decline to qualify Syndergaard, but offer him a smaller one-year "pillow contract"

Sandy Alderson has spoken about an interest in extending Syndergaard. Alderson is not often inclined to overpay for veteran free agents. Perhaps a Kluber-like deal with the Mets next year can allow Syndergaard to reestablish full value without having to change scenery.

Syndergaard finds that Kluber-type deal with another team

I know y’all hate it when I report this, but the Yankees themselves have tried to trade for Syndergaard in the past. He has a history with Eric Cressey, who now runs strength and conditioning for the Yanks and who helped guide Kluber to them. And the Yanks will be looking for their next one-year deal for a pitcher next winter. Plenty of other clubs could pursue Syndergaard for the same reason.

Syndergaard’s agents are able to find him a multi-year deal

All it takes is one club to drive a player’s market out of the pillow contract zone. And a healthy Syndergaard is still probably going to be an upper-echelon pitcher

There is a work stoppage and free agency doesn’t happen

Frowny face.