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Palladino: Possibility Of Mets Trading DeGrom Or Syndergaard Is Crazy Talk

Suggestion Of It Evokes Memories Of Seaver Blunder

Ernie Palladino
May 23, 2018 - 9:47 am
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As chairman and one of their minority owners back in the day, M. Donald Grant wielded much power over the Mets. But it wasn’t until June 15, 1977, that he loosed the dogs of hell over New York when he traded Tom Seaver to the Reds for what amounted to a bag of balls and a case of peanuts.

He thought he was killing the proverbial two birds with one stone, at once ridding himself of a contract headache and getting Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry in return for a 32-year-old pitcher well into what would become the last of his five 20-win seasons.

The move sent the town into a fit of apoplexy over losing their Cy Young hero and future Hall of Famer. Worse, the quartet Grant got in return had no effect, and it would be six more years before the Mets won more than 68 games.

Fast forward to today. Grant is long gone, but the voices surrounding these current Mets have put forth the notion that it might be wise for general manager Sandy Alderson to move either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard somewhere for some top-flight prospects. The Yankees, who only have one healthy starting pitcher who is both younger than 30 and has an ERA well below 5.00, was offered as a potential trade partner.

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As crazy as sending one of their two quality pitchers to the Pinstripes sounds, strange things do happen in baseball. Especially with teams that go into sell mode come late July.

But the Mets are not one of those teams. Not yet. And if their current resurgence -- they've won four of their last five and sit four games above .500 -- eventually does suffer the same fate as their 11-1 start, other trade pieces exist that would represent more palatable options than dynamiting the remains of a once-promising rotation.

Asdrubal Cabrera, for instance. He becomes a free agent after the season, so he could serve as a fine second-half rental if the .325 batting average holds up. He’d certainly be worth a couple of prospects for a contending team looking to shore up its middle infield.

Moving Yoenis Cespedes might be a bit more complicated, considering the oft-injured outfielder is still owed $58 million through 2020. He’s not due to come off the DL until Thursday with a strained hip flexor, but history tells us it’s just a matter of time until he yanks something else.

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Still, that doesn’t eliminate him as a potential trade piece. Someone in the American League looking for some mid-lineup power could get good use out of him as a designated hitter. And if the Mets swallowed enough of his remaining contract, said team might throw in a veteran along with a high-level prospect.

Moving deGrom or Syndergaard would, of course, bring the biggest yield. But such a move would also bring the biggest outcry among the faithful. DeGrom, the clear ace of the staff, is 4-0, but the 1.75 ERA with 69 strikeouts over 51 1/3 innings gives an even more accurate picture of how well he has really pitched over his nine starts.

Nobody is ready to put the 29-year-old in Seaver’s class yet, but his popularity as a steady, unflappable mound presence has only grown over the years.

Syndergaard, completely recovered from the torn lat that ruined last season for him, is 4-1, 2.91 with but one less strikeout than deGrom. The flowing locks, the mythical nickname and the ability to hit 100 mph on the speed gun whenever he wants have put him on the road of folk heroes.

To get rid of either of those guys when other viable options exist would put Alderson in the company of Grant.

That’s not a good circle to find oneself.

Even if the season swirls down the drain in July, deGrom and Syndergaard need to stay right where they are.

Otherwise, Alderson risks blowing up the organization for years to come.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino