In recent days, as the baseball industry has pondered whether the Mets will trade Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard, there's been plenty of speculation as to whether the Yankees are a viable destination.We probably should focus our attention elsewhere.• History of Mets-Yankees dealsOver the last 24 years, the Mets and Yankees
In recent days, as the baseball industry has pondered whether the Mets will trade Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard, there's been plenty of speculation as to whether the Yankees are a viable destination.
We probably should focus our attention elsewhere.
• History of Mets-Yankees deals
Over the last 24 years, the Mets and Yankees have made one in-season trade: Armando Benitez was dealt from Flushing to the Bronx on July 16, 2003, for Jason Anderson, Anderson Garcia and Ryan Bicondoa. Benitez was in the final season of his contract and lasted only nine games with the Yankees before being traded to Seattle.
To trade a 30-year-old closer was one thing. deGrom, an ace who isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season, is an entirely different case. The same is true for Syndergaard, who is under control through 2021, even though he's on the disabled list.
It's similarly difficult to imagine the Mets dealing with a National League East rival. Yes, Jerry Blevins moved from the Nationals to the Mets at the end of Spring Training in 2015. The highest-profile Mets-Braves trades over the last 20 years sent Kelly Johnson (twice), Juan Uribe and Jeff Francoeur to New York. The Phillies and Mets haven't made a Major League trade since 2001 (Bruce Chen to New York).
So, past precedent suggests we should not expect a deal of this magnitude within the division. We may not see one involving deGrom or Syndergaard at all, based on sources maintaining that the Mets would need to be overwhelmed in order to trade either of them.
But if the Mets move one of them before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, one American League executive believes the destination could be a team not necessarily viewed as a "buyer" based on the current Major League standings.
For example: The White Sox expect to compete for a postseason berth in the next two to three years. They've been mentioned as a possible suitor for Manny Machado in free agency this winter. To have a realistic chance at landing Machado, they'll need to convince him that the team's pitching staff will be strong enough to win the World Series. For now, the White Sox have the Majors' second-worst rotation ERA (5.25).
The White Sox have the most important attribute of any team looking to deal with the Mets: an elite farm system. Thanks in large part to prospects obtained in the trades of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton, the White Sox began the year with the No. 3 farm system in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn could trade two of his five best prospects and still have a top-10 farm system in the industry.
Incidentally, much of what is true about the White Sox also applies to the Padres, who had the game's top farm system, according to MLB Pipeline, when the regular season began. The Padres already made their free-agent position-player splash with Eric Hosmer, and general manager A.J. Preller soon will look to assemble the foundation of San Diego's next contending rotation. This month, Preller could trade rental starter Tyson Ross and in-demand closer Brad Hand, while adding longer-term starting pitchers.
So while contenders like the Brewers and Mariners are sure to speak with the Mets about the possibility of landing deGrom or Syndergaard, the White Sox and Padres may well do the same. Each team has the prospect currency to entice the Mets -- and, of equal importance, is free from the Mets' aversion to dealing with divisional or intracity rivals.
Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com.