Bold, sleepless Brodie Van Wagenen has so much going on at these winter meetings that The Post has little choice but to address two distinct Mets issues in one column.
Two Mets questions, really, both tethered around their rookie general manager’s aggressive pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. If General Cornwallis had pursued the American/French army with such doggedness back in 1781 at Yorktown, we all might be eating bangers and mash and listening to Dido right now.
By Tuesday evening, here at the winter meetings, the prospect of a three-way trade sending Realmuto to Citi Field and Noah Syndergaard to Yankee Stadium appeared increasingly unlikely, as the Mets seemed more focused on a more conventional, two-team swap for Realmuto. Nevertheless, Van Wagenen and company don’t mind any trade permutation that makes them appear open-minded.
So let’s examine, and question, what’s going on here:
1. Is it worth moving heaven and earth to acquire J.T. Realmuto?
If you line up Realmuto alongside the best free-agent catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Martin Maldonado and Wilson Ramos), reality-show style, you’d choose Realmuto first, all the more so if you’re inexplicably all in like the 2019 Mets. Realmuto is the most likely of the group to be elite next season. He hits beautifully for his position, he scores well on the defensive metrics and he carries a good reputation as a teammate.
Of course, you don’t make this decision in a vacuum. The Marlins understandably want two big pieces for the 27-year-old, who has two years of control remaining. And the Mets already carved up their mediocre-at-best farm system when they included promising prospects Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic in the trade for the Mariners’ Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.Van Wagenen is on record, repeatedly, saying his club is “trying to be additive, not pulling pieces away.” If Amed Rosario disappointed in his first full big-league season, he still displayed real promise, and he has five years of control left before free agency. Giving away Rosario and another controllable, high-upside piece like Brandon Nimmo — or, alternatively somehow, Syndergaard for Realmuto and another Marlins player — would hurt the greater cause.
Grandal, Maldonado and Ramos don’t project as highly as Realmuto. Their flaws stand as more obvious. Yet they’d cost only money (plus a 2019 draft pick, in Grandal’s case). If the Mets are willing to spend enough, they could cover for Realmuto’s value at other spots like center field and the bullpen and protect their other assets.
2. Should it be OK to make Syndergaard a Yankee?
In general, yes, the Mets would benefit from being more amenable to conducting business with the Yankees. In 2017, had Sandy Alderson been permitted to trade Jay Bruce, in his walk year, over the RFK Bridge in return for young inventory and Bruce helped the Yankees win it all, no big whoop.
Shipping Syndergaard across town, however, represents a different conversation. This is a high-ceiling pitcher with three years of team control remaining who can not only dominate opponents but also can electrify a fan base. Imagine a full Yankee Stadium adorned in Thor gear and chanting, “Noah! Noah!” That would bring pain to even the most analytically inclined and emotion-free organizations, which the Mets are trying to become.
Throw in the fact that Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi, two pitchers with the potential to replicate Syndergaard’s production, already are off the free-agent board, and a trade of Syndergaard anywhere looks even worse. And then to the Yankees on top of that?
As Mets manager Mickey Callaway said here Tuesday, when asked how difficult it would be to replace Syndergaard’s talent level, “It would be very, very tough.”
Being fearless carries its merits. The Mets have long been too driven by daily media and fan reaction, so it’s a worthwhile exercise to at least entertain any and all risky ideas.
You don’t want to be entirely fearless, however. You should fear cliffs, quicksand and tariffs. And if you’re the Mets, you should fear delivering the Yankees a World Series title in the form of Syndergaard.