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Christmas wishing, redux: Bold trade edition

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What would it take for the White Sox to pry Noah Syndergaard from the Mets?

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies
On We Sweep, With Threshing Oars: Noah Syndergaard would be the White Sox ace if the White Sox were somehow able to land him.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In a baseball world that seems determined to see Noah Syndergaard traded from the New York Mets (even Syndergaards’s Twitter bio pokes fun at the rumors), I thought up a way to amend my White Sox Christmas list that was posted a couple of days ago. See, there’s still another way the White Sox could add an elite starter without breaking the bank.

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Mets created shock waves when they indicated they’d be open to the possibility of trading Syndergaard. Of course, since the recent acquisition of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, that talk has subsided a wee bit. However, rumors still abound, which got me thinking — which is quite dangerous to contemplate.

It’ll be difficult for the Mets to contend in a division that features three quality squads in the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. However, because they do have some key pieces already in place (Jacob DeGrom, Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, Diaz, Cano), the Mets really don’t need to go into full rebuild mode. Thus, a combination package of major leaguers and near-ready prospects may be enough to complete the deal.

The White Sox get

Noah Syndergaard: Syndergaard, otherwise known as Thor, has an impressive five-pitch repertoire. They include, with average mph (per FanGraphs) in parentheses: four-seam fastball (97.6), sinker (97.3), slider (92), changeup (90.3) and curveball (83.1). In 2018 in 25 starts, he posted a 13-4 record over 154 13 innings with a 3.03 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, allowing 148 hits (.250 OBA) and 39 walks (6.1%) while fanning 155 (24.1%).

Syndergaard is a little like Carlos Rodon, in the fact that he has missed significant time in his career due to injuries. Just 26, Syndergaard has posted consistent peripherals over his four-year career. He is estimated to earn $5.9 million this year in arbitration, and will be eligible for free agency (provided, of course, he’s tendered arbitration) through the 2021 season.

Stephen Villines: Villines was a 10th-round pick from Kansas in 2017, and had a splendid season this year with three different Mets organizations — culminating with a stop in AA Binghamton. He’s not among New York’s Top 30 prospects, but in 47 games totaling 66 23 innings, Villines combined to posted a 3.11 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, surrendering just 43 hits and 13 walks while fanning 96 batters.

The Mets get

Yoan Moncada: Moncada had a difficult first full season, but he still possesses amazing talent. He was the top-ranked prospect in baseball for a reason — he’s got incredible bat speed, is willing to take a walk, displays impressive power, and can run quite well. He obviously needs to cut down his strikeouts, which he should be able to do with more experience. He’s an average defender at second right now, and he will still be just 23 when next season begins.

If the Mets acquired Moncada, they likely would move him to center field, since their infield will eventually consist of Peter Alonso, Robinson Cano, Amed Rosario, and Todd Frazier. Moncada still earns the league minimum of $555,000, and won’t be eligible for free agency until 2024. The White Sox would move Yolmer Sanchez from third to second base, where he’s better suited. Then, providing he’s healthy and thriving in the minors in 2019, Nick Madrigal should be ready to take command of second base in 2020.

Welington Castillo: It’s no secret that the Mets have been interested in catching targets like J.T. Realmuto and Yasmani Grandal. On my wish list, I had Grandal signing with the White Sox, rendering Castillo superfluous. Assuming the Mets are unable to attain Realmuto’s services via trade, Castillo may be their best available option.

Castillo’s issues last year have been well-documented, but he does provide above-average offense at the position, with the ability to gun down potential basestealers. His salary next year is $7.25 million, and the Mets would have a club option for $8 million in 2021 (additionally, the White Sox will likely be willing to pay at least half of Castillo’s salary).

Adam Engel: Since Moncada will be learning center field, they likely will need a defensive replacement; Engel would fit that bill perfectly. The White Sox could easily replace Engel with a free-agent acquisition of Jon Jay or trade for Andrew Toles, as astutely suggested by gibby32 on my previous post.

Dane Dunning: Dunning has been nothing short of outstanding since the White Sox acquired him more than two years ago from the Washington Nationals. If not for his season being cut short due to a moderate elbow strain, Dunning may have made to Charlotte. As it is, he should earn significant time in AAA this year and ranks 59th among all prospects according to MLB Pipeline. He’s likely the best of the White Sox prospects who are considered “tradable” (that list includes Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, Dylan Cease and Madrigal), and he qualifies to be dealt according to the tagline, “You gotta give up something to get something.”

Blake Rutherford: Rutherford, ranked No. 7 among Sox prospects and 77th overall according to MLB Pipeline, had an impressive year last year in Winston-Salem (.293/.345/.436) and is still only 21. The Mets would choose Rutherford over the likes of Micker Adolfo and Luis Alexander Basabe for three reasons: (1) Rutherford wouldn’t require a 40-man roster spot, unlike the other two, (2) he’s still considered a Top 100 prospect which is an easier sell, and (3) the Mets would be able to nab a former high-ranked Yankees prospect.

Summary

The Mets get a starting catcher for the next year (two, if they accept Castillo’s option in 2020), which would allow their top catching prospects (Thomas Nido, Francisco Alvarez, Ali Sanchez, and Patrick Mazeika) more time to develop. They’d also get a potential All-Star in Yoan Moncada, who was the top prospect in baseball as of mid-2017, a Gold Glove nominee in center field, and two Top 100 prospects — one of whom could make a major league roster by the end of next year.

By trading for Syndergaard, the Sox would actually save money (and a draft pick), as the fireballer will likely earn less money in any of his remaining arbitration hearings compared to what Dallas Keuchel (my original “Christmas list” starter target) will likely earn via free agency; plus, Syndergaard is several years younger. They’d unload Castillo, and gain a promising arm in Villines.

My updated Christmas Wish List rotation for 2019 would be Syndergaard, Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Ivan Nova and Lucas Giolito. The 2020 rotation could look even better, after subbing in Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease.

The starting lineup for 2019

(1) Jon Jay (CF)
(2) Manny Machado (3B)
(3) Eloy Jimenez (LF)
(4) Bryce Harper (RF)
(5) Jose Abreu (1B)
(6) Yasmani Grandal (C)
(7) Yonder Alonso/Daniel Palka (DH)
(8) Yolmer Sanchez (2B)
(9) Tim Anderson (SS)

The starting lineup for 2020

(presumng that Abreu signs an extension this year):

(1) Nick Madrigal (2B)
(2) Manny Machado (3B)
(3) Eloy Jimenez (LF)
(4) Bryce Harper (RF)
(5) Jose Abreu (1B)
(6) Luis Robert (CF)
(7) Yasmani Grandal (C)
(8) Zack Collins (DH)
(9) Tim Anderson (SS)

The starting rotation would consist of Syndergaard, Rodon, Kopech, Lopez, and Cease.

Quite impressive, if everyone’s healthy and playing to expectations.

The big question: Would either team do this deal?