The Mets are looking for a bat to improve their struggling offense. They have a wealth of talented young pitchers to offer in a trade. Should they make a deal? Tomorrow night’s game is a reminder of why they might be wary.
The Mets start a four-game series with the Blue Jays, with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound for New York in Monday’s opener. After the 2012 season, the Jays traded then-20-year-old Syndergaard and catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud to the Mets for reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Dickey, now 40, has not had nearly the same success in his three seasons in Toronto as he did in his three years in New York. Syndergaard was ranked as the third-best pitching prospect in baseball entering this season and has shown flashes of brilliance in his six major league starts since getting called up in May. d’Arnaud, 26, has dealt with some injuries but looks like he could be the Mets’ catcher for a long time.
As difficult as it was to trade Dickey after his incredible season — especially since the Mets had let another fan favorite, Jose Reyes, leave the previous year after he’d won a batting title — it has proved to be a great move for the Mets. It’s easy to see why GM Sandy Alderson, who pulled off that trade, would be hesitant to be on the wrong side of a similar deal this season.
But that’s not how Alderson, or any GM, should evaluate trade options. The Blue Jays probably don’t care that Syndergaard and d’Arnaud are rising stars; after all, they got a Cy Young winner in return. The reason the trade hasn’t been great for them is because of Dickey’s struggles. Teams can’t be expected to give up quality players for peanuts, so if the Mets want to improve their offense (which is 25th in runs scored) they just might have to part with Syndergaard, Steven Matz (a 24-year-old lefty tearing up AAA), Zack Wheeler (out for the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery), or another of their young pitchers.
It’s not always easy to give up promising young players for proven, but older, talent. When Syndergaard pitches to d’Arnaud tomorrow, the Blue Jays will be reminded of that. But the Mets and other teams with needs can’t dwell on those deals if they are serious about contending now.