Inbox: What's the likelihood Mets deal Thor?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from New York fans

November 26th, 2018

The weeks after Thanksgiving are when the Hot Stove season tends to warm up, with free agency nearly a month old. Like most teams, the Mets have yet to make any changes to their 25-man roster, though that hasn't stopped them from generating their share of rumors. In the latest Mets Inbox, we dive into one of the most prominent of them:
What's the latest on the trade rumors and the potential package the Mets might receive from a team with interest? I am one of many Mets fans who do not want them to trade Syndergaard, as no one on the market is as good as him in my opinion. -- @Shmeag_5
While I believe the Mets' interest in exploring a Syndergaard trade is real, it's unlikely -- as with any potential deal of this magnitude -- to become more than just a November rumor. New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been tight-lipped regarding the Mets' offseason blueprint, but one thing he has said consistently is that he considers starting pitching the club's strength. Van Wagenen has indicated he does not want to break up that strength because he believes the Mets can be a postseason-caliber team.
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So color me skeptical. I'd argue that the Mets need to add starting-pitching depth this winter, as the grouping of , Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, , , and doesn't provide nearly enough. (Prospects Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay and David Peterson have high ceilings, but they are just a bit too far from the Majors for me to count on them as trusted big leaguers in 2019.) Trading Syndergaard would make acquiring another expensive starter a requirement for the Mets, in a market that doesn't feature a lot of top options. In other words, trading him would create at least as many problems as it solves, even if the return is dynamic. It's just tough for me to envision the Mets doing it.
Why do I see reports saying the Mets are in on but out on Manny Machado? I would think the righty infielder would be a much better fit than the lefty outfielder. Is there something else at play here that I'm not seeing? -- @CobyWanKanobi
I haven't gotten the sense that the Mets are seriously considering either. When asked last week about his team's ability to take on a $300 million contract, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon deflected the question. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence that the Mets are going to go out and make significant additions to their payroll.
I agree with you that Machado is a much better roster fit for the Mets than Harper. Machado would solve their need for a transformative right-handed bat, and he would give the Mets all sorts of potential in their infield. But unless it becomes public that the Mets have a hard offer on the table for either Machado or Harper, I'd take anything you hear about those two with a sizable grain of salt.
With Peter Alonso tearing it up last year as well as in the Arizona Fall League, where does that put ? Seems like he has been put on the back burner with his limited playing time at the end of last season. (And seems like the outfield isn't a viable option from his small sample size.)
-- @MillManner

Smith has a better chance to win a job out of Spring Training than he did last year, but he finds himself on worse footing overall. In 2018, Smith was a big underdog to , but he had real potential to win the starting job for good by May or June. This year, he stands a good chance of winning at least a share of the Mets' Opening Day gig at first base. But Alonso's emergence, combined with Smith's lack of big league success and the Mets' possible need to use at first base, means he isn't likely to last there long.
At this point, Smith needs a dynamic camp and a white-hot start to the season to hold off Alonso. Anything less may not be enough.
With getting $9 million, I'm expecting him to be a regular. Will he be ready or traded to make room for an A.J. Pollock type? -- @eorepete
Health-wise, Lagares should be good to go long before Opening Day. In September, he went as far as to say he hoped he would be healthy enough to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, though that has yet to happen. (The regular season ends just before Christmas.)
The question is where Lagares belongs on the depth chart. You're wrong to assume his salary -- $9 million in the final year of what was supposed to be a team-friendly contract -- will dictate his playing time. While Van Wagenen has mentioned Lagares as a possible outfield solution, he also has talked at length about acquiring a right-handed bat. Pollock would fit that bill, potentially giving the Mets a starting center fielder to pair with and , while pushing Bruce to first base.
Another option would be to keep the Mets' outfield intact with Conforto, Nimmo and Bruce as the starters. In either event, Lagares' role seems like it will be similar to what it has always been -- a platoon bat that frequently enters late in games as a defensive replacement.
What are the odds the Mets add two impact relievers like and ?
-- @dancohenn

I'd say it's all but inevitable the Mets land someone from the list that includes Miller, Ottavino, , Zach Britton, , and , given the number of holes in their bullpen. They'll almost certainly sign a second reliever as well, though whether that signing comes from the same top-tier list remains to be seen. It will depend in large part upon the Mets' offseason budget, which remains a closely guarded secret.
Does deGrom get an extension this offseason? -- @dcohen817
My gut says no. As popular a move as it would be, and as good a relationship as deGrom and Van Wagenen have, I just don't see the sides finding a financial middle ground that makes sense for both. Had the Mets gambled and offered deGrom a team-friendly deal a couple of years ago, they'd probably be reaping the benefits right now. I don't criticize them at all for not taking that risk, but to sign deGrom now, they'll need to buy high on a player who just won the National League Cy Young Award. Possible, but not overly likely.

Is Lugo being stretched out as a starter just for the sake of building endurance, or is there a legitimate chance this is meant to set him up for the rotation next season? -- @jack_hendon99
A little of both. I'd be surprised if Lugo is in the Opening Day rotation, given how much the Mets like him in the bullpen. But he's a strong bet to make spot starts at various points next season, as he did in 2018. As Lugo said last week, it's a lot easier to prepare as a starter and pitch as a reliever than the opposite, so that's what he's doing.