With the New York Mets in dire need of a full-time centerfielder, one longtime New York sportswriter says that he has a “pipe dream” trade that would address the issue — right-handed fireballer Noah Syndergaard for the Boston Red Sox’s four-time Gold Glove winner, Mookie Betts. According to New York Post columnist Joel Sherman, the hypothetical trade would not only solve the Mets’ outfield problem but would also benefit the Red Sox.
In 2020, Betts will play his final year before becoming entering the free-agent market, where he could command a contract in the neighborhood of $400 million.
But the Red Sox face a conundrum with Betts, after slugging designated hitter J.D. Martinez elected to stay with the team rather than opt out of his contract and become a free agent. With their obligation to pay Martinez his $23.75 million salary, and Betts estimated to make about $27 million next season, Boston may be forced to trade one of the two in order to drop the team payroll below the $208 million “luxury tax” threshold.
However, Sherman wrote that acquiring Syndergaard “would cost one-third of Betts” in 2020. The 27-year-old righty would also remain under team control through 2021 — one year longer than Betts. Syndergaard earned $6 million in 2019. His 2020 salary has yet to be determined, but would likely remain under $10 million.
The Red Sox would bolster their injury-plagued starting rotation by acquiring Syndergaard after ace Chris Sale was able to start only 25 games in 2019 — the fewest of his career — due to an elbow injury.
The Red Sox could also choose to turn around and deal Syndergaard for a package of young prospects, Sherman theorizes. That would slash even more cash off the Boston payroll, while also helping to rebuild the organization’s farm system. Heading into the 2019 season, the Red Sox had only one prospect — third baseman Michael Chavis — ranked in the top 100 by MLB.com.
Syndergaard, however, had the weakest of his five Major League seasons in 2019, according to Baseball-Reference. Though he started 32 games, he finished with a mediocre 10-8 record and a career-worst 4.28 ERA — more than a full run higher than the ERA he posted in his rookie season. Until this year, Syndergaard’s rookie 3.24 ERA had been his career low point.
While Betts’ offensive performance trailed off somewhat from his American League MVP season of 2018 — when he paced the Red Sox to 108 regular-season wins and a World Series championship — he nonetheless posted an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of.915. This was the second-highest of his six-year career, after the 1.078 he posted in his MVP year.