In his six-year career, Noah Syndergaard has been many things for the Mets. A highly touted prospect who helped propel the team to the World Series in 2015, a bonafide ace who led the charge to a wild card berth in 2016, and now an impending free agent after missing nearly two full seasons due to injury.
The Mets have clearly seen what Thor can do at his best, but there is good reason to question whether that is the Syndergaard we will see in 2022. The 29-year old spent nearly the entire year on the IL in three of his last five seasons. In his most recent full year in 2019, he posted a 4.28 ERA, not exactly what the Mets had bargained for. With Thor’s future contract and ability both in question, he will play a significant role in determining the Mets 2022 pitching staff.
The Qualifying Offer Question
As if there were not enough questions already, the qualifying offer throws another wrench into the works. Following the conclusion of the World Series, the Mets can choose to offer Syndergaard a qualifying offer. Essentially, it is a one-year, 18.4 million dollar deal, with the contingency that if Noah declines, the team that ultimately signs him will forfeit a draft pick to the Mets. It is currently unclear on both sides whether the Mets would make the offer, as well as if Syndergaard would accept.
Why the Mets Say Yes
The prevailing theory currently is that the Mets will, in fact, give Thor a qualifying offer. If he accepts, the Mets retain a starting pitcher with very high upside; and if he declines, the Mets can still walk away with an additional draft pick.
Why the Mets Say No
While this would be a surprise, it is not out of the question for the team to deny the qualifying offer and let Syndergaard walk. Noah has not pitched a full season since 2019, and even in that year, he was below average. His return from Tommy John surgery was delayed by three months, and just two short appearances in September have provided little insight as to the kind of pitcher he will be going forward. There is also a high likelihood that Syndergaard would not get a deal as rich as the qualifying offer on the free-agent market, and thus the Mets may be overpaying if they choose to offer it.
Why Thor Says Yes
If the Mets decide to make the offer, Syndergaard would have ten days to decide if he wants to accept. The consensus in the industry is that he would. For one, the salary would be nearly twice his current contract, and as mentioned previously, is likely more than he would get on the open market, especially with the draft pick compensation attached. In addition, if Syndergaard wants to make a bid for a massive contract, this is the way to do it. He can bet on himself in 2022, and if he excels, be rewarded with a nine-figure deal. Any one-year free-agent deals will pale in comparison to the qualifying offer, and any multi-year deals at this point would be looking to capitalize on Thor’s low value by underpaying him in future years.
Why Thor Says No
This is probably the most unlikely outcome. If Noah declines the offer, he will head into free agency four years removed from his last above-average MLB season, with the compensatory draft pick hanging above his head. It seems doubtful that any team would offer a one-year deal exceeding the value of the qualifying offer. While Thor may be able to land a contract for, say 25 million dollars over two years, he would be harming his future earnings by delaying his next free agency period until age 31. On top of this, Syndergaard seems to love playing in Queens, and accepting the qualifying offer may be his only route to continue that.
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