By Zach Gewelb
The Yankees made the first big splash of baseball’s hot stove season this week when they acquired lefty starting pitcher James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a package of prospects headlined by Justus Sheffield.
Now, it’s time for the Mets to keep the hot stove season cooking and make a big move of their own.
First, let’s dissect the Yankees’ trade for Paxton, one of the top starters in the game who has two years of control remaining.
The Yankees desperately wanted to add one, if not two, top-tier starting pitchers this offseason and Paxton certainly qualifies and the price wasn’t too steep.
Sheffield, like Paxton, is a lefty and has seen plenty of success in the Yankees’ minor league system. He has above-average stuff and makeup, but he has struggled with control throughout his career. Perhaps the Yankees felt that Sheffield’s control issues made him more of a No. 3 type starter rather than the ace Paxton is believed to be. If that’s the case, it makes plenty of sense why the Yankees would sell high on Sheffield.
The rest of the package — Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams — represents a minimal return for Seattle.
Both Swanson and Thompson-Williams have value, but not for the Yankees, who have plenty of players above them on their organizational depth chart.
Losing Sheffield hurts, but the Yankees needed a top-tier starter and trading for Paxton significantly improves the rotation.
As for the Mets, rumors have circulated that the team is looking into trading young flamethrower Noah Syndergaard this offseason. If they are seriously considering moving him, the Mets have an opportunity to acquire loads of young talent.
The Padres, who are looking to advance past their rebuilding stage, have feigned interest in Syndergaard and would make a good match with the Mets. San Diego boasts loads of young talent and is looking for an ace to lead its pitching staff.
Perhaps the Mets can pry catcher Austin Hedges and infield prospect Luis Urias — MLB.com’s No. 27 overall prospect — as the headliners of package for Syndergaard. Add in a bullpen piece and a young starter close to the big leagues, and you’ve got yourself a nice package. Then the team can sign a free agent starter to fill Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation.
The Yankees set the market for starting pitchers and Syndergaard is a more valuable asset than Paxton — he’s younger and has more team control. The Mets should strike while the iron is hot and make a move that can reshape the franchise for years to come.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe