When Noah Syndergaard takes the mound today for the Mets in Viera, it will probably be his last big league appearance until June or July. Some Mets fans will bristle at this fact simply so they have something to bristle at, but the Mets are handling this exactly as it should be handled.
With the Mets paring down the amount of players in camp in advance of opening day, it’s likely that Syndergaard will be sent to minor league camp by early next week.
Before getting into the Super Two/team control aspect of this, it should be pointed out that there are two other factors that are keeping Syndergaard from the majors at the moment.
1. The Mets don’t have a need in their rotation.
2. Syndergaard has never thrown a pitch above Double-A.
You can argue that experience in Triple-A isn’t important for someone like Syndergaard, but the Mets have been operating this way ever since Sandy Alderson took the helm. They err on the side of Triple-A experience for all of their starting pitching prospects – something that’s prudent.
Whenever the Super Two deadline passes, the Mets will be prepared to call Syndergaard up for his major league debut.
The Mets aren’t being cheap. Rather, they’re doing what every smart team does with its blue chip prospects. As Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog explains:
Players become free agents after six full years. If the Mets bring Syndergaard north for Opening Day, and he spends the year on the big league roster, his six years would start in 2014 and cover 2014-2019, making him a free agent between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. If the Mets wait even a few weeks before putting Syndergaard on the active MLB roster this year, they will have 2014 and then six more years covering 2015-2020. How good would Syndergaard have to be in three or four starts in 2014 to justify punting control of his entire 2020 season? Of course, he’ll be arbitration eligible in the last three (or four) depending on his promotion date. If the Mets keep Syndergaard in the minors past the deadline for Super Two arbitration status, roughly six weeks or so, but a date that moves around every year depending on other big league players, they will only go to arbitration against him three times instead of four. Since arbitration salaries build on each other, such a move could save $10 million for maybe five starts. Delaying free agency at the cost of three to four starts could be worth $20 million or more on the open market.
As Hyde points out, this is both an issue of team control and money. It’s possible the Mets could re-think this and opt to call Syndergaard up after they guarantee the extra year of team control, but it’s highly likely they’ll stick to what they’ve done recently – call Syndergaard up after the Super Two deadline passes.
It’s understandable that fans want to see Syndergaard and his blazing fastball and “hook from hell” sooner rather than later. However, it would be incredibly foolish for the Mets to bring him north for opening day, and likely pointless for them to call him up before the Super Two deadline passes.
This is how smart teams operate. Baseball is fun, but it’s also a business. In a few months, Syndergaard will be in Queens – likely to stay.