Noah Syndergaard is set to undergo Tommy John surgery after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. The injury will almost certainly force him to miss the start of the 2021 season. The timing of this injury is awful for the New York Mets.
The Mets were on the verge of having to make a long-term decision on Syndergaard. They were likely going to either have to sign him to an extension or trade him this season (assuming there is a season in 2020). New York only has Syndergaard under team control through 2021 and now he'll be coming off major surgery.
Syndergaard was set to be one of the most attractive trade pieces on the market this summer. He could have netted the Mets a really nice return and now he's off the board.
In 2019, Syndergaard went 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, with 202 strikeouts and 50 walks in 197.2 innings. It was his worst season in the big leagues. It followed a 2018 year when Syndergaard made 25 starts and posted a 3.03 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and had 155 strikeouts against 39 walks in 154.1 innings. Despite those numbers, his fWAR in 2019 (4.4) was still solid.
When healthy, Syndergaard is a flamethrower with a phenomenal slider that can be a devastating out pitch. But that doesn't matter if he's not on the mound.
At his best, Syndergaard is an ace or a great No. 2 starter. If they were contending, the Mets would probably love to lock him up long-term and pair him with Jacob deGrom as one of baseball's top one-two punches. But Syndergaard missed most of 2017 with a lat injury, missed starts in 2018 with a finger issue and then contracted hand, foot and mouth disease. Now he's blown out his elbow.
Syndergaard will return in 2021 and likely have harsh innings restrictions. It will be almost impossible to trade him at that point. So the Mets probably just have to ride this out, see how he does when he returns and maybe offer him a one-year, "prove it" extension. Or they could just let him walk after the 2021 season.
No matter what happens, Syndergaard's injury has put the franchise in a horrible spot.