Padres: Would Trading for Noah Syndergaard Be a Smart Move?

With San Diego in play for a playoff spot, it could push them towards being buyers, which clarifies their interest in Noah Syndergaard.

The Padres are in the market for a starting pitcher, and they have reportedly turned their interest to New York’s Noah Syndergaard, according to MLB Network’s very own Jon Morosi.

San Diego entered the season with a lack of experience and quality in the starting rotation, thus spent their offseason looking to acquire some help. And they’re showing why.

The staff’s 4.38 ERA isn’t exactly anything to write home about. Neither is the fact that their Opening Day starter this year was Eric Lauer and his 4.04 ERA. They’ve uncovered a future ace in Chris Paddack, but he’s a rookie, and as talented as he is, you should never have a first-timer fronting your rotation during a playoff push. Hence the interest in the one they call “Thor.”

There are loads of bad teams out there with starting pitchers, but not many, if any, have the ability of an ace like the 6’6, 240-pound Syndergaard.

He’s a strikeout machine that owns a career 3.23 ERA and is armed with velocity that packs the might of a thunderstrike from an Asgardian god. The 26-year-old has a four-seam fastball that can touch triple digits with ease, a nasty slider that can hit the mid-90s, and an effective curveball and changeup.

At his best, he’s a top-ten starting pitcher who can be a game-changer and significantly improve the Padres’ chances at a postseason berth. But that’s where things get a bit dicey.

Syndergaard hasn’t pitched like Thor this season by any stretch of the imagination. In his 105.2 innings, he has an ugly 4.68 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and just 101 strikeouts. All are on track to easily be career-worsts.

According to Brooks Baseball, the right-hander’s slider velocity and movement are not what they once were. That may explain the career-worst .286 average and .612 slugging against it, after years of being unhittable.

Even his strikeout numbers are well below what we’re accustomed to seeing. Syndergaard’s strikeout percentage (22.8%) has dropped below the MLB average, while his swinging strike rate is a career-low. And in contrast to this, his walk rate has risen to a career-high. Not a great combination.

Oh, and there’s also spotty health history. His career-high in innings thrown is 183.2, while every other year he’s tossed 150, 30.1, and 150.1, respectively, due to multiple IL stints.

But many of his underlying numbers have not been as hard on him as his surface statistics. In fact, they are painting a picture that Thor has been, dare we say, unlucky?

Syndergaard’s 3.98 FIP isn’t great either, but a 0.70 difference from his ERA is relatively significant. Opponents are hitting .261 with a .417 slugging and .314 wOBA off the righty, but his Expected Batting Average and Expected Slugging Percentage are .227 and .348, respectively, while his Expected wOBA is .280 (all of which would comfortably be better than average).

And with the Mets ten games under .500 and the playoffs virtually out of reach, collecting as many young assets to help them reload and retool may be the best path to go down. So the underlying question is, would Noah Syndergaard be a good buy-low candidate?

Absolutely yes. The Padres have the farm system, the need, the home ballpark to help raise his game, not to mention he’s extremely talented. But his employers have no reason to operate like that.

Thor has two more years of team control left and has proven, health problems aside, that he can be a top-tier arm. So why would the New York Mets (as dysfunctional as they are) sell low on such a talent?

It’s easy to see the Mets front office if they do solicit offers, start off by asking for a package surrounding one, or a few, of the Padres’ best prospects such as a MacKenzie Gore or Luis Urias. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility that New York’s general manager inquires about rookies Fernando Tatis Jr. or Chris Paddack.

And if that’s the case, A.J. Preller should shut down negotiations immediately. Logically, the asking price shouldn’t reflect his 2019 production, nor his otherworldly talent. Instead, it would be somewhere in between.

The Mets are going to want at least one arm back, and the Padres’ have a ton of young, high-upside ones in the minor leagues. And if San Diego values Austin Hedges’ defense that highly, does it make rookie catcher, Francisco Mejia expendable?

Do you then package him with another young arm such as Logan Allen or Cal Quantrill (who have talent but aren’t as highly regarded as the system’s other arms)?

Or do they build an offer around one of their power-hitting corner outfielders in Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes and package them with prospects?

Everything has a price and with so much young talent within the organization, the Padres can meet it without denting their future plans. Their two rookie studs (Tatis Jr. and Paddack) and top-tier prospects (Gore, Urias, perhaps Luis Patino?) should be an immediate no-go. Everyone else? Well, there’s the room to work with.

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