NEW YORK -- Well before the start of the Hot Stove season, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen went out of his way to squelch what would have been two of the winter’s most frequently discussed topics.
So ends any speculation that the Mets, who shopped both players prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline, might do the same this winter.
In one respect, the change in approach comes as little surprise, given that dealing those players would have meant selling them at the low points of their careers. Díaz, who came to New York alongside Robinson Canó in a seven-player trade last winter, blew seven games, took seven losses and posted a 5.59 ERA in 66 appearances, after producing a 1.96 mark with the Mariners in 2018. The 25-year-old allowed as many home runs -- 15 -- as in his previous two years combined.
Still, Díaz struck out 99 batters in 58 innings, offering hope that a turnaround is possible.
“After a great start by Edwin in April, obviously he had some challenges as the year went on,” Van Wagenen said. “I do think that Edwin personally took a lot of heat for his performances. I know I did as well. But Edwin still saved 26 games for us this year, and I think that’s 30 percent of the wins that we had. It’s far from where we hoped he could be, and it’s far from where we believe he will be.”
Syndergaard, 27, also submitted the worst year of his career: a 4.28 ERA in 32 starts. Like Diaz, that performance included positives under the surface. Finally healthy, Syndergaard posted career highs in starts and innings, striking out more than 200 batters for the second time in his career. He also produced a FIP of 3.60, suggesting some of his struggles were due to both poor luck and a below-average defense behind him.
Prior to the Trade Deadline, Syndergaard said the trade rumors that had dogged him since the previous winter were “getting a little old.” Now, he no longer needs to worry about them.
“We had to make some tough decisions at the Trade Deadline, but many of those decisions were rooted in planning forward to the 2020 season,” Van Wagenen said. “Both of those players remained with us after the Trade Deadline. We intend to have them be that way heading into Spring Training.”