I suppose it makes some extremely superficial sense that people out there would take the (generously described) “Kris Bryant is available” rumors and pair them with the “Noah Syndergaard is available” rumors and try to make a fit. There’s not much happening on the transaction front right now, and those are two huge names in huge markets, so the fact that multiple places (MLB.com and SNY among them) are pushing the idea is not surprising.
In the spirit of the season, I thought I would momentarily take a look at such a proposed swap through an objective lens before tossing it aside as a joke of an idea. I think that’s where I’m going to land, but let’s give it a (brief) serious look just to be sure we’re not going over-the-top from our homerific gut.
Bryant, 26, is under control for three more years in arbitration, during which he figures to make $40 to $50 million. Syndergaard, also 26, is also under control for three more years in arbitration, during which he figures to make $25 to $35 million.
Each player comes with injury concerns, though Bryant is expected to make a full recovery next year from a shoulder issue, and Syndergaard finished the season healthy after missing about a month and a half due to a finger issue. That said, Syndergaard also missed most of 2017 with a lat injury, and is a pitcher … the injury calculus is absolutely not the same between these two players.
There’s so much apples and oranges going on when you compare pitcher performance to position player performance, but we’ll try anyway. Bryant has provided the Cubs three elite years of production, together with one (last season) merely solid season. Syndergaard, by contrast, has managed one elite season, two very good seasons, and one mostly lost season. For whatever you consider it worth, Bryant holds a considerable fWAR edge over their careers, 23.1 to 15.0. Steamer projects a 5.7 WAR season for Bryant in 2019, and just 3.6 for Syndergaard.
Bryant will probably have a great deal less hair than Syndergaard in 2019, but that’s about as far as I’ll go.
I don’t question that a healthy Noah Syndergaard is easily among the best 15 or so starting pitchers in the National League, but my overall sense is that a healthy Kris Bryant is easily among the best 15 or so players of any kind in all of baseball. The value proposition here, in a straight up swap, simply doesn’t make sense.
Then, if you were seriously considering this, you’d factor in the Cubs’ need for impact bats and lack of a need for a starting pitcher, and a trade makes even less sense. To be sure, of course the Cubs would be happy to have Syndergaard and would accommodate him in the rotation with relative ease. But it’s not as though they need to be going out of their way – trading one of the most talented players in the history of the organization – to go get him.
So, yeah, this is one of those things that folks look at without a few minutes of deep consideration and say, “Ooh, how about this fit?!?” But it really doesn’t take too long to see why it does not make any kind of baseball sense.
We can safely resume laughing this suggestion off when pundits offer it. If they want to start talking about Syndergaard plus plus plus for Bryant? Then I suppose we could do another round of considering, but then, why would the Mets do that? Such is the problem in finding realistic trades for these kinds of talents. The deal that would maybe be considered by one side is too ridiculous for the other side to actually offer.