Thor: 'Tight-knit' Mets rotation tough to top

Thor: 'Tight-knit' Mets rotation tough to top

NEW YORK -- Within moments of the Red Sox landing Chris Sale at last week's Winter Meetings, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard took to Twitter, bristling at the notion that the Sox -- or the Cubs, or the Nationals, or anyone else -- now boast baseball's best rotation.

"I agree to disagree," Syndergaard wrote.

Hot Stove Tracker

When asked Tuesday about his comments, Syndergaard held firm.

"Their ability is outstanding," Syndergaard said of the Mets' rotation, speaking at the team's holiday party at Citi Field. "We're kind of like a tight-knit brotherhood ourselves. We're all just rooting for one another."

If the Mets plan to upend the Nationals in the National League East this season, however, it will take more than camaraderie. The Mets' rotation needs to stay healthy throughout the summer, a feat that only Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon achieved in 2016. Now, with Colon in Atlanta, the Mets will rely on significant innings from Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, all of whom are coming off surgery.

And they will, of course, lean more than ever on Syndergaard, who enters the season on a short list of NL Cy Young Award favorites. Syndergaard's health is a key to the Mets' whole operation.

"I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job as far as my offseason strength-and-conditioning program," Syndergaard said. "So I'll be ready to go come February."

Considering how successful Syndergaard has been thus far in his big league career, it is easy to forget that 2016 was his first full season. Tossing a career-high 183 2/3 innings plus another seven in the NL Wild Card Game, Syndergaard said, was "hard on the body" and "hard on the mind." That is why he decided to skip the 2017 World Baseball Classic, despite an invitation from Team USA.

For now, Syndergaard is content resting and relaxing. He recently returned from Spain, where he vacationed outside Madrid with his parents. And he showed up Tuesday in New York for the Mets' holiday party, an annual event for schoolchildren from various Queens neighborhoods.

Playing a 6-foot-6 Santa Claus in a Mets-blue suit and a snow-white beard, Syndergaard hopes to avoid the "curse" that has affected past Mets Santas, a disproportionate number of them suffering significant injuries following their roles as St. Nick. Unworried about that, Syndergaard handed out presents Tuesday alongside "elves" Brandon Nimmo and Jose Reyes, saying afterward that he looks forward "to doing this for many more years to come."

Asked what he wants for Christmas himself, Syndergaard didn't hesitate.

"A World Series," he said.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.