The Mets’ insistence on placing a tariff on the Yankees reeks of insecurity. When a team, in this case the one owned by the Wilpons, essentially quarantines another one from trade talks, that does not represent an out-of-the-box approach. Rather it boxes in management by reducing the field by one.
What are the Wilpons afraid of in declaring that the Yankees’ offer for Noah Syndergaard would have to be leaps and bounds better than the next-best offer in order to consummate a trade? That the righthander with the stuff and attitude to front a headless rotation would maximize his talents in The Bronx and pitch the Yankees to their first World Series and championship in 10 years?
What would that have to do with the price of tickets in Queens if the return enhances the Mets’ chances of returning to the postseason this year or in the immediate future?
Isn’t the primary objective to add a third World Series banner for the home team rather than obstructing the other team’s chance to win its 28th? Or was the latter one of the bullet points on Brodie Van Wagenen’s presentation when he successfully applied for the general manager’s job last October?
Are they afraid the Yankees have the resources the Mets lack in terms of front office and teaching support; that the Yankees are advanced in analytics? Would that not be an internal matter for ownership and the general manager to address immediately?
It would be one thing if the Yankees and Mets shared a division rather than a city. There are sound reasons for not trading with a team you’ll face 19 times during the season, and certainly a potential ace who could start five or six of those games. But even in that case, if a potential trading partner in the division has the goods that you covet, why fail to act out of fear?
The Mets’ apparent eagerness to move Syndergaard, over whom they have contractual control through 2021, is puzzling enough in itself if the aim is to double down on the current situation and shoot the moon in an attempt to parlay a couple of weeks of hot play into a legitimate run for a wild-card berth.
Unless a package of prospects gained for No. 34 far exceeds the level of prospects the club yielded to acquire Marcus Stroman, whose contract runs through 2020, dealing Syndergaard for futures represents either a mixed message or a definitive one that the front office is done with the pitcher who has a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings of postseason work and gained the Mets’ only victory in the 2015 World Series.
And if that is the case, if the Mets do not need to be overwhelmed by an offer in order to deal him, then why wouldn’t they seek to foist him off on the Yankees and ensure themselves a ringside seat if Syndergaard slips on a banana peel in pinstripes?
The Mets’ single greatest need is for a legit center fielder who can catch and hit the ball.
Securing one — hey, the 2014 and 2015 versions of Juan Lagares would suffice, but we seem to be past the point of no return on that — would allow the team to naturally align itself in the outfield with Michael Conforto at one corner and, well, maybe Jeff McNeil still at the other if the decision is made to retain Todd Frazier as the third baseman rather than deal him to a contender. If Frazier does go, there is the prospect of Brandon Nimmo returning at some point in August to take over a corner spot.
The Yankees happen to have such a center fielder in Aaron Hicks, who signed a contract extension this spring through 2025 under which he will earn $10 million per, with a $12.5 million team option for 2026. There is this talk about Gleyber Torres, which is silly stuff, and talk of Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar, neither of whom makes sense from the Mets’ perspective.
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There is no guarantee the Yankees would move Hicks, even for a potential top-of-the-rotation stud, with Cameron Maybin the most logical choice to take over what was hallowed ground across 161st Street. Hicks is a critical piece of the team.
But a package fronted by the 29-year-old Hicks, and that would surely have to include one of two of the Yankees’ most highly regarded prospects, may be the most attractive and on-point the Mets receive if this deadline is as much about today as tomorrow.
And if it is, and the Mets still reject even if they would accept a commensurate package from any of the other 28 clubs, well, that is the antithesis of the bold approach Van Wagenen pledged to bring to the job.