A case can be made that the New York Mets possess the best collection of young pitching in the major leagues, with a projected 2015 starting rotation that includes right-handers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.

Plus, it shouldn’t be long until they’re joined by a host of other young arms, too, as prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz both are close to being ready for The Show.

However, while the Mets may be loaded on the mound, the team also has glaring holes elsewhere on its roster, especially at shortstop. So far, general manager Sandy Alderson hasn’t been interested in trading any of the aforementioned pitchers for an upgrade at the position, though that hasn’t stopped other teams from inquiring.

But if the Mets were to trade for a shortstop this offseason, then they could potentially draw a huge return by making Syndergaard available.

Here is what you need to know about the Mets’ top prospect.

Syndergaard, 22, had a rough 2014 campaign at Triple-A Las Vegas on paper, posting a 4.60 ERA in 133 innings while opposing hitters raked against him at a .293 clip (10.4 hits per nine innings).

However, the right-hander’s 3.70 FIP highlights that his numbers were inflated by the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Specifically, opposing hitters batted .378 on balls in play against Syndergaard, yet he kept the ball in the park at an impressive rate of 0.74 home runs per nine innings.

On top of that, he once again held his own against older hitters while maintaining strong strikeout (9.81 strikeouts per nine innings) and walk (2.91 walks per nine innings) rates.

Syndergaard’s control and ability to throw strikes always has been one of his strengths, highlighted by his sub-seven percent walk rate over the last two years. The right-hander managed to limit the free passes even in his rougher outings this year, and his command should only improve with experience.

With a 6’6”, 240-pound frame, few pitchers in the minors have Syndergaard’s combination of front-of-the-rotation upside and physical durability. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old’s power arsenal of three potential plus pitches (four pitches overall), highlighted by a high-90s fastball (above) and devastating curveball (below), will always help him miss bats.

And after striking out 10 batters per nine innings over his five-year career in the minors, it wouldn’t be surprising if Syndergaard maintained a favorable strikeout rate in the major leagues.

A look at Syndergaard’s future teammates’ minor versus major league strikeout rates also suggests he’ll continue to pile up strikeouts moving forward.

Syndergaard learned this year that he can’t succeed with pure stuff alone despite consistently working within the zone and will need to execute his full arsenal more efficiently.

Triple-A Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola played a major role in Syndergaard’s development, as he instructed the right-hander to shake off his catcher more, learn how to pitch without his best stuff and develop his secondary pitches, especially his changeup, according to Tim Rohan of The New York Times.

It’s worth noting that Syndergaard gave everyone a scare with a minor elbow injury in late May, though it was a non-issue over the rest of the season and didn’t play a role in the Mets’ decision not to call him up for the final month of the season.

“You always want to see the prospects,” said Mets manager Terry Collins, via Marc Carig of Newsday. “I know one thing I don’t want to have happen is have him be called up and have five innings to work with. Start him in a game, have him go five and shut him down for the rest of the year, I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment of what he can do.”

It’s not a secret that the Mets would like to add a shortstop this offseason, as they currently have Wilmer Flores slated to open 2015 at the position. However, that doesn’t mean the club would be willing to blow up its starting rotation and/or farm system to acquire a high-end shortstop.

The Mets briefly discussed Didi Gregorius with Arizona before he was dealt to the Yankees, but the Diamondbacks reportedly wanted Syndergaard in return, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.

“We’ve looked at all the shortstop possibilities,” Alderson said, via Rubin. “We knew Arizona was looking for young pitching. There’s some young pitching we weren’t prepared to trade, but I can’t say we had a lot of extensive conversations with Arizona.” 

The Mets aren’t in any hurry to deal major league assets such as Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom anytime soon, especially when the trio are yet to pitch in the same starting rotation. Along those same lines, the club doesn’t need to sell low on Syndergaard’s upside for only a marginal upgrade at shortstop.

Therefore, even if the Mets make Syndergaard available this offseason, they’re still unlikely to trade him unless presented with a perfect deal, one that directly addresses their needs for the 2015 season (and beyond) while offering something more than a marginal upgrade.

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