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Mets are ‘definitely’ trading Noah Syndergaard: source

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The Mets’ focus has turned strongly to trading Noah Syndergaard by Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline — and the likelihood of Edwin Diaz being moved has greatly increased as well.

One executive who has communicated with the Mets said, “They are definitely trading Syndergaard.” Another source said no deal was imminent Friday night.

The expectation is the Mets will grind toward the deadline trying to extract the most possible for Syndergaard, hoping the clock ticking toward the deadline motivates even greater bidding. Another outside executive described general manager Brodie Van Wagenen “working very hard on this,” more so with Syndergaard than Diaz.

The Mets control Syndergaard through 2021 and so they could reverse and just keep him. But the first executive said the Mets are ready to move on from Syndergaard, noting they shopped the righty last offseason and have been quite public and aggressive this month in putting him on the market. Both Fred and Jeff Wilpon are said to have become more engaged in recent days, receiving input and reports from scouts about what is available to the Mets, an indicator ownership would bless such large-scale trades. As of Friday, ownership had been presented with myriad scenarios and the expectation is that number will increase as the deadline nears.

The Astros have most fervently pursued Syndergaard, but the Mets’ current stance is that only the Braves and Padres, both with stacked systems, are ideally positioned to obtain the righty.

Edwin Diaz
Edwin DiazPaul J. Bereswill

The Mets have let teams know they would like a package to include a starter who can go into their rotation now — even if he is a No. 3-4 type — and a few top prospects. They have set out that they will only move Syndergaard if they are overwhelmed by a proposal, but more and more — in a market crying out for top starters to become available — the Mets think such a deal is out there. And more and more it looks as if Van Wagenen will be as bold in disassembling the team as he was in making acquisitions last offseason.

One interested team described what the Mets went through with Syndergaard as “an exercise” in the offseason and now, “If they get what they want I think they will do this. One thing they clearly are doing is not rebuilding with or without Syndergaard. They only do this if they think it is a way to be more competitive next year by getting more depth or more prospect collateral. This would not be a pure prospect trade.”

Mets executives Allard Baird and Omar Minaya, perhaps Van Wagenen‘s most trusted scouts, watched Atlanta’s Double-A and Triple-A clubs on Thursday. The Braves, nevertheless, did not consider substantive negotiations with the Mets to have yet been undertaken. Previously, however, the Braves thought they were on the periphery with Dallas Keuchel, until a surge in negotiations brought that free-agent deal together quickly in early June.

The Padres have seriously pursued Syndergaard since last offseason and appear best positioned to satisfy the Mets’ needs. That means it’s possible the Mets are engaged with Atlanta and its strong farm as a way to push San Diego. The Padres, according to other teams, have shown willingness to consider moving Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Andres Munoz, Luis Urias and Hunter Renfroe in the right deal. They will not relent on top prospect MacKenzie Gore and there are questions if they would consider righty Luis Patino for someone such as Syndergaard.

Syndergaard fits what Padres GM A.J. Preller prefers in players — sizable talent, even if it is not yet fully harnessed. And he fits San Diego’s contention horizons. The Padres want to try to make a wild-card run this year and then more seriously challenge beginning next season. Syndergaard will not be a free agent until after the 2021 campaign. Plus, San Diego believes its most important need is an established veteran starter to go with its talented youth.

San Diego and Atlanta are generally viewed as having top-five farm systems. The Twins, who are interested in Syndergaard, also have a well-regarded system, yet do not currently appear to be frontrunners if the Mets indeed trade the righty. The Astros’ and Yankees’ systems are not as strong as in the recent past.

It could be partly a cover story because the Mets prefer not to make a significant deal with the Yankees, but the Mets have let it be known they are not overly impressed by the Yankees’ inventory. The Astros’ appeal has dimmed because arguably their top three pitching prospects — J.B. Bukauskas, Corbin Martin and Forrest Whitley — have been injured or disappointing this year.

Syndergaard fits the Astros because they not only love his obvious talent, but having lost Keuchel and Charlie Morton in last year’s free agent market and facing the same this winter with Gerrit Cole, they need to fill in around Justin Verlander.

The Dodgers are known to have interest in Diaz. Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oakland, St. Louis and Minnesota are also known to want to add relief.

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