CHICAGO – The Mets have decided to listen to offers for righthander Noah Syndergaard, and the Twins are willing to put their hat in the ring.
The teams have had discussions about Syndergaard, according to multiple sources with knowledge of discussions, the latest development in the Twins’ quest to upgrade their pitching staff as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches. Talks with teams are expected to pick up early next week; the market for buyers is expected to grow as more teams decide they are not contenders and become sellers.
In recent weeks, the Twins have showed interest in a number of pitchers, such as Padres closer Kirby Yates, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman and others. There has been little progress, one reason being that teams covet the Twins’ top two prospects in the organization, shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff, in some scenarios.
The Mets, according to sources, are eyeing both Lewis and Kirilloff as part of a package for Syndergaard, who has two more years of arbitration remaining. The additional years of control allows the Mets to demand a high price for Syndergaard, the pitcher with flowing locks nicknamed Thor.
Syndergaard, 26, is 7-5 with a 4.33 ERA this season. He is 44-27 with a 3.21 ERA for his career.
The Twins entered Friday coming off a 3-6 homestand, the record disappointing but their high caliber of their offense was evident as they battled the Athletics and Yankees. But the homestand also showed that they need pitching upgrades.
The Twins hope to add at least two pitchers before the deadline. With three members of their rotation eligible for free agency after the season, trading for a starter who’s under control — such as Syndergaard or Stroman — helps the present and future.
A year ago, Twins players watched the team make several moves in the days leading up to the deadline — as sellers. Righthander Jake Odorizzi remembers last July 27 in Boston, when Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly were dealt from a team that had faint playoff hopes.
“That was a tough day,” he said.
Things are vastly different this year, as the Twins entered Friday with a two-game lead in the AL Central and in position to buy.
“Buying is the most important thing,” Odorizzi said. “We were in the selling position last year and it was not enjoyable. I’ve been on a few sellers before and it stinks. You don’t want to say goodbye to friends. You want to try to acquire some new friends.”
Center fielder Byron Buxton, who has recovered from a concussion and has nearly recovered from dental surgery, was activated from the injured list Thursday and back in the Twins lineup for the first time since July 13.
Buxton had three teeth removed last week. One was a wisdom tooth. One was infected. And his voice sounded slighty muffled, as if he’s still not 100%. And he said he wasn’t. But the surgery was needed.
“Some things that could possibly trigger migraines,” he said. “Stuff that we took care of and got it over with.”
Buxton, hitting .253 with nine home runs and 42 RBI, had doubles in his final two at-bats Thursday, giving him 26 on the season. He rejoined Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler in the same outfield for the first time since June 14. Buxton (twice) and Rosario (once) have been on the injured list since then. The Twins are 9-17 when Buxton does not play, as he is as impactful as a No. 9 hitter can be.
“What Buck brings to you and he changes not just the way we play as a team but he changes the way the other team has to look at the game and approach what they are doing,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He speeds the game up for the other team when he’s out on the field, and that is not a comfortable place to be.”
Outfielder Jake Cave was sent back to Class AAA Rochester to make room for Buxton. Also, righthander Sean Poppen was called up to replace lefthander Devin Smeltzer, who was optioned after working five innings of relief vs. the Yankees on Wednesday.