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Mets don’t plan to shop Noah Syndergaard this winter


One of the most perplexing things involving the Mets over the past year were the persistent rumors that they planned to trade Noah Syndergaard. The cropped up last offseason and flew around like crazy at the trade deadline this past season.

The rumors were perplexing for a couple of reasons. The biggest one being that he is under team control through the 2021 season and no one thinks one must trade a guy with two or three seasons of team control left.

Another reason was that the Mets, on, paper anyway, have seemed like they could contend with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard at the head of a strong rotation. They need more pieces of course — the bullpen and back end of the rotation needs some help — but it’s not hard to imagine the Mets being able to win with those two. And, in the event, the Mets made a very strong push in the second half of 2019 that fell just short, giving them a glimpse of what is possible with just a few improvements.

A final thing is the fact that, even if you felt like you had to trade Syndergaard, doing so in 2019 was not ideal because he had a down year, posting a 4.28 ERA, though his peripherals are still strong.

Whatever that all amounted to, the speculation that the Mets might deal Syndergaard has been put to rest by Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who said over the weekend that “we have made it very clear that we’re not going to engage on Noah.” Nothing is 100% definitive when it comes to front office messaging, but that comes pretty close.

Now, let’s see if the Mets actually add those couple of pieces that they need.

MLB report blames seam height, not juiced balls, for 2019 home run surge

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SAN DIEGO — This morning Major League Baseball released a report from a committee of scientists tasked with studying baseballs and the home run surge from 2019. Their verdict: that manufacturing variation leading to inconsistent seam height — not any intentional act taken to “juice” baseballs — is the reason for last year’s power explosion.

There were 6,776 home runs hit during the regular season, which shattered the previous record, set in 2017, by nearly 11 percent. Numerous players around the league suspected or assumed that the league, which owns the ball manufacturer, Rawlings, had intentionally juiced the baseball to promote offense. The committee concluded in the report that “no evidence was found that changes in baseball performance were due to anything intentional on the part of Rawlings or MLB and were likely due to manufacturing variability.”

That conclusion would appear to only be partially accurate.

Dr. Meredith Wills, an astrophysicist who has been conducting her own research on baseballs and the home run explosion, published her own work on all of this in The Athletic last June. Wills concluded that, based on her examination of baseball seams and seam height, a key part of the manufacturing process — the drying of damp, finished baseballs after assembly is complete — likely did change.

Specifically, she concluded that seam height and decreased bulging of baseballs which led to less aerodynamic drag and farther ball flight was likely the result of Rawlings using heaters to dry balls, as opposed to the traditional air-drying, allowing them to produce more balls in a shorter period of time. Wills told NBC Sports this morning that she suspects Rawlings did this because many more balls were needed due to Major League Baseball mandating that Triple-A adopt the major league ball for the 2019 season.

As such, the key word in this morning’s report is “intentional.” Wills:

“The decrease in drag was very likely unintentional, but the change in the drying process would be intentional. No, they didn’t intend to juice the ball, but yes, they did make an intentional change to the manufacturing process. It was not ‘manufacturing variability’ it was deliberate process improvement to accommodate higher demand. ‘Variability’ makes it sound like it’s random or a mistake. It was not.”

There is also the matter of the decrease in ball flight and home runs observed — and confirmed by today’s report — in the 2019 postseason.

MLB’s expert panel basically punts on any explanations for the variation, noting small sample size and no other apparent explanation. As such, the matter for the immediate change in the home run rate and fly ball distance the moment we moved from September to October baseball is not clear. Wills is continuing her research on 2019 postseason game balls — a matter about which there has already been no small amount of controversy of late — and expects to publish her results soon.

There will be a press conference regarding the study here at the Winter Meetings at 1PM Eastern time today. NBC Sports will be at that press conference. NBC Sports has a good number of followup questions.