Baseball

We Could Plant A House, We Could Build A Tree – Cubs Offseason Wishlist: Go**amn Thor

Hello there. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be cycling through some realistic, and not so realistic offseason targets for the Cubs, either via trade or free agency. Today, we start with the not s0 realistic. 

Now that the World Series is over, and as I’ve said already, I’m going to wake up every morning terrified that this is the day the Cubs do something truly stupid. Not that it’s ever been in the Theo DNA to reach for the truly outlandish, but it feels like the walls are closing in on the front office. There’s the pressure of its first truly disappointing season (again folks, they won 95 games in ’18 with half a Kris Bryant), the expectations of fans, and the demands of ownership both for a winner to fill the park and get eyeballs to Marquee while also squeezing the payroll. There seems to be a reckoning coming for the Cubs in two seasons when just about everyone who matters aside from Kyle Hendricks (and possibly Yu Darvish matters now?) are free agents and just how the Cubs will get out of that.

That’s a lot of pushing from opposing sides, which could leave an irrational pimple like me to pop. I’ve concluded that the Cubs will make a big trade, involving a name we all love, and that’s just how it’s going to be. My deepest fears are that it will be Kris Bryant, which I’ve already spent months outlining just how stupid that would be, and will spend many more weeks doing so even more.

But there’s going to be one. So my only hope is that it brings someone fun and good back. Which is why we’re kicking off with Noah Syndergaard.

Why could this happen? Because the he hates the Mets and they hate him. Any Met who ever bothers to point out that the Mets are run in a very Mets way generally ends up not-a-Met before too long. And Syndergaard nearly ended up not-a-Met-anymore at least year’s deadline. Also, Thor will be due his own windfall of cash in two seasons as well, and even though they’re a New York team the Mets seem to find a lot of ways to not pay people anymore. Call it PBSD (Post Bonilla Stress Disorder).

Now hey, maybe the hiring of Carlos Beltran signals a turn to rationality for the Mets. And maybe Blake Lively will leave Ryan Reynolds for me. This is the goddamn Mets we’re talking about. They’re always likely to do something stupid. In fact, they want to do something stupid.

Why A Spoon, Sire? Because it’s Thor! He’s 27, can throw a fastball through three live horses the long way if he wanted to, with a devastating slider and a very improved change-up. He’s got Cy stuff. And he’s under team control for two more years. So even if he’s projected to make $9.9M this year, considering what he can provide he’s the biggest bargain financially you’ll find. He’s been a four-WAR pitcher the past two seasons, with a FIP under four and a 2.80 one in ’18. In a season where everyone was giving up hard contact, Thor simply didn’t, with hard-contact rates under 30% in ’18 and ’19 and a line-drive rate under 20% this year. Quite simply, he can be a dominating presence, and you can’t have enough of those.

Ein minuten bitte, vous einen kleinen problemo avec de religione (he was from everywhere): The thing with Thor is that when you see the stuff, you’re sure he should have deGrom like numbers. And he kinda doesn’t? He’s always struck out a hitter per inning at least, but never gotten into the 11 or 12 per nine innings range where the citizens of Olympus live. And…well actually that’s it, because Thor has put up ERAs under 3.00 twice and another season of 3.03. While deGrom has stolen the headlines with his Cy Young and likely another one on the way, Thor would be the #1 on a lot of teams. It’s not his fault the Mets have been pretty much garbage since his rookie season or that they somehow stumbled into one of the few pitchers better than him on the same rotation.

The other knock on Thor is health, which is a valid concern. But he’s also coming off a season where he threw 197 innings, a career-high, and he’s basically made every start asked in three of his five seasons. With someone who throws this hard there’s always questions about durability. But hey, you can’t make a Molotov cocktail without lighting a fire here and there.

Some Silver? Little Gold?: Ah, here’s the problem. Syndergaard isn’t coming cheap. And we don’t mean in terms of money. The Mets probably know they have a golden ticket here, and sadly they’re not so stupid to miss what that means. So you’re not going to get him pried loose by giving up thrift store fodder.

So what could they use? Wilson Ramos wasn’t exactly terrible for them last year, but he’s going to be 33 next year and has fallen off some of his big years with the Nationals and his one year in Tampa. He’s got two years left on his deal, though the second is a team option and both are at $10M. They couldn’t really find anyone behind him.

So Willson Contreras would be an upgrade, considering he was the best hitting catcher in all of baseball last year in wRC+. He’s an offensive upgrade on everyone, whether you like it or not. He’s also five years younger than Ramos, with what at least appeared or could be argued was improving defense/framing. The Mets had a middling offense last year and could use the boost.

Sure, the Mets could probably more use an upgrade in centerfield, but I don’t think Albert Almora is getting this deal done somehow.

Would Willson for Syndergaard be enough for the Mets? Probably not. But you wouldn’t have to throw in too much more than that, especially if you took Ramos back to split time with Caratini.

Could It Happen?:

But we can get to reality later.

 

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