This week, Terry Collins gushed about Noah Syndergaard. The prized prospect was throwing 97 mph heat in Port Saint Lucie, and mixing in what his manager called “the hook from hell”. This had a Pavolvian impact on Mets fans, who yearned for the the day when Syndergaard will toe the Citi Field rubber. But how far away is that day, and what are the factors impacting Syndergaard’s arrival?
Last year, Syndergaard began the season at high-A Saint Lucie, and posted a 3-3 record with a 3.11 ERA. He struck out 64 batters in 63.2 innings, while walking 16 and allowing 61 hits. Syndergaard was then promoted to AA Binghamton, where he went 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA. In Binghamton, Syndergaard pitched 54 innings, striking out 69 while allowing 12 walks and 46 hits. Clearly, he is showing that he is ready for the next phase of his career. But where should that be?
Then there’s the Super Two issue. Players who earn two years of major league service time and excel at their positions can be arbitration eligible a year earlier than most players, who have their first arbitration year after 3 years’ of major-league service. This means a faster loss of control for the team, both in terms of third-year salary and free-agency eligibility. Typically, the cut-off date for accruing a full year of service time is in late June (Zack Wheeler was called up on June 18th last year). If Syndergaard were to come to the Mets before late June, he would likely be Super Two qualified, resulting in future implications for the Mets. This will no doubt factor into the Mets’ thinking.
Back to the original question-what should the Mets do with Syndergaard coming out of spring training? While the knee-jerk reaction may be to shout, “Bring him up!”, the wise decision will be to have him begin next season at Las Vegas. If he pitches well in AAA for half the season, the timing of a potential call-up could work nicely. Syndergaard will get his needed development, and the Mets will have him under control for an extra year.
It may not be the popular call, but I think it’ll be the right one. How do you see it?