With Noah Syndergaard in his third year of arbitration eligibility, the New York Mets should definitely consider offering an extension.
This offseason, both sides continued that tradition as Syndergaard and the Mets agreed to a one-year deal worth $9.7 million on Friday.
Despite their contract settlement, the Mets and Syndergaard should continue negotiating on a long-term contract extension, as the 27-year-old is eligible to enter free agency after the 2021 season.
The right-hander is also coming off arguably his worst performance at the major league level. During his 32 starts from this past season, Syndergaard recorded a career-worst 4.28 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 1.23 WHIP, .252 OPP AVG, 24.5% strikeout rate, 6.1% walk rate, 13.3% HR/FB rate along with a 4.4 fWAR.
Based on his underperforming results from this past season, now is the perfect time to lock up Syndergaard to an extension.
Despite Thor’s career-worst ERA and FIP, he was still able to complete 197.2 innings in 2019, which are the most he’s ever thrown throughout his professional career. So, Syndergaard just displayed that he is indeed still capable of pitching through a full-season without encountering any major arm injuries.
Along with his durability from this past season, the Mets should also further capitalize on Syndergaard’s lower than expected WAR from this past season. If Syndergaard had replicated his success from his 2016 season where he earned a 6.0 fWAR rating, he would have been able to command significantly more than the $9.7 million that he just received.
Furthermore, Syndergaard would probably prefer to enter his final year of arbitration and reach the open market after the 2021 season if he had been able to produce a sub-3.00 ERA along with a 6.0 fWAR during the 2019 campaign.
Since the Mets handed fellow starter Jacob deGrom a five-year contract extension before the start of the 2019 season, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will likely need to offer Syndergaard a similar term with his deal. Based on his salary for 2020, Van Wagenen should offer Syndergaard a five-year, $106.5 million contract extension this winter.
If Syndergaard were to accept, his five-year deal would begin this season and would carry through the 2024 season. Since Syndergaard’s new deal would begin in 2020, he would still be paid $9.7 million this season. After 2020, Thor would be paid $15.3 million in 2021, $22 million in 2022, $28 million in 2023 and $31.5 million during the 2024 season.
With Syndergaard also entering his age-27 season this year, this extension would prevent him from reaching free agency until he’s 32-years-old. If both options are exercised on deGrom’s deal, both him and Syndergaard would become free agents after the 2024 season. Although, deGrom would be entering the free-agent market at 37-years-old and the righty will likely be just a few seasons away from retirement.
While this contract for Syndergaard may seem like an overpay based on his 2019 performance, this move makes sense for the Mets. The biggest issue Syndergaard faced during this past season was the lack of consistency he had with his slider.
Throughout the entire 2019 season, Syndergaard struggled mightily with locating his wipeout slider at the bottom of the strike zone, as it was pounded for five home runs in 2019 compared to zero in 2018. But, Thor has been adjusting the grip of his slider this offseason and his breaking ball shouldn’t become a concern again during this season.
Meaning, Syndergaard should regain the 92 MPH velocity that he lost on his slider along with the 46.1% whiff rate that he generated off it during the 2018 season.
If Syndergaard is also able to remain healthy throughout the next few seasons, the Mets will very likely receive a 5.0-plus fWAR pitcher at just $9.7 million in 2020 and $15.3 million in 2021. At those rates, the hard-throwing right-hander would prove to be a major bargain for the Mets over the next two seasons.
As for Syndergaard, this extension would eliminate the possibility of an arbitration hearing during next winter, which is a process all players hate experiencing. While this deal would buyout three years of free agency for Syndergaard, it would also still allow him to potentially enter the open market after the 2024 season and sign another long-term contract.
Based on Syndergaard’s injury history, a lot of contending teams would likely be hesitant to offer him a $100 million contract if he were to enter free agency after the 2021 season. Instead of receiving a five-year deal, Thor would likely have to settle for a two or three-year contract and prove that he’s capable of staying healthy throughout the majority of his multi-year deal.
By signing this extension with the Mets, Syndergaard can set himself up for another $100-plus million payday if he can stay healthy over the next five seasons.
Both the Mets and Syndergaard can benefit from a five-year extension this winter. It would not only keep Thor in Queens for five more seasons, but this extension would also keep deGrom and Syndergaard (who are arguably the best pitching duo in the league) together until at least the 2023 season.