Standing on a stoop in Queens, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon was in a charitable mood Friday afternoon, having just delivered a full Thanksgiving meal to a local family.
It was part of the team’s “Metsgiving” philanthropic endeavor, an annual distribution of more than 800 turkeys across all five boroughs, plus complete meals to 25 families living near Citi Field.
But when it came to the Mets’ competitors — other major-league teams — Wilpon wasn’t feeling nearly as giving.
Noah Syndergaard trade rumors kicked up again this week. Wilpon didn’t dismiss the idea that the Mets could deal the 26-year-old righthander with a career 2.93 ERA, but he did suggest the cost would be steep.
“It all depends on what [general manager Brodie Van Wagenen] thinks he can get back,” Wilpon said. “If he thinks the return is outsize from what the value of Noah is, then I guess he’ll suggest it and we’ll move on and do that.”
Multiple reports Friday indicated that the Padres, who have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, are very interested in Syndergaard, whom the Mets have little motivation to deal. That's why any trade would have to be “pretty lopsided,” as Wilpon put it, in the Mets’ favor.
Syndergaard is under team control for three more seasons. He is heading into arbitration for the second time, which means his salary — likely in the neighborhood of $5 million — still will be quite palatable, even for a budget-conscious team like the Mets.
Syndergaard generally is considered to have not yet reached the high ceiling assigned to him when he was considered one of the top prospects in baseball four years ago. Having missed about half of 2017-18 because of three stints on the disabled list, he also hasn’t done much recently to build his trade value, outside of maintaining the high-90s fastball and low-90s slider that make him able to dominate any given outing.
And yet, after finishing with a losing record for the second year in a row, the Mets are forced to think creatively and act aggressively.
“[Van Wagenen is] looking at everything,” Wilpon said. “I know his board is full in terms of what he’s looking at in terms of trades and potential free agents. There are a lot of them on there. I don’t think he’s going to leave any stone unturned.
“It takes two to make a trade. It would have to be pretty lopsided, like I said going into last year when we went to the trade deadline, with three other guys running the team and having all those discussions. Nothing ever came to that point where it was worth our while to pull that trigger.”
When the Mets entertained the idea of moving a starting pitcher last summer, manager Mickey Callaway was vocal about wanting the group to stay together, saying he and pitching coach Dave Eiland pleaded with the front office not to make a move. At the end of the season, Callaway said that remains his stance for 2019.
Callaway said Friday that he hasn’t gotten too deep into those conversations yet with Van Wagenen, his new boss.
“We’ve been working through other things,” Callaway said. “I’m sure everybody wants Syndergaard. He’s a pretty good pitcher.”