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Angels and hard-throwing starter Noah Syndergaard agree to one-year deal

Noah Syndergaard throws a pitch on the mound.
The Angels have agreed on a one-year contract with free-agent starter Noah Syndergaard.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

With their first big move of the offseason, the Angels are rolling the dice on one of the more intriguing free agents.

On Tuesday, the team agreed to a deal with starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard on a one-year, $21-million contract, adding the former All-Star to their rotation for the 2022 season.

Once among baseball’s most promising young pitchers, the 29-year-old right-hander comes with question marks after being limited to only two innings the last two years following a Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

He was extended a one-year, $18.4-million qualifying offer by the New York Mets to return to the team next season.

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The Angels, however, offered him more money, even though it will cost them a second-round draft pick (because of MLB rules pertaining to players who have been extended qualifying offers) and put another big salary on the books for 2022.

Angels GM Perry Minasian spoke about the team’s pitching needs and approach during MLB’s general managers meetings on Tuesday in Carlsbad.

With Syndergaard on board, the team will have just under $152 million committed to next year’s payroll, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, including estimated salaries for arbitration and pre-arbitration players. That would be about $30 million less than the team’s opening day payroll last year.

Bringing back closer Raisel Iglesias, something general manager Perry Minasian has stated as a goal this offseason, would further cut into the team’s financial flexibility — rendering the Syndergaard signing all the more important in the Angels bid to push for a playoff berth next season.

When healthy, Syndergaard has shown flashes of dominance. After posting a 3.24 ERA as a rookie in 2015, he earned his lone All-Star selection in a 2016 season in which he had a 2.60 ERA, won 14 games and struck out 218 batters.

Though Syndergaard’s 2017 campaign was derailed by a muscle tear in his right lat, he returned strong in 2018, going 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA.

New York Mets' Noah Syndergaard pitches.
New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard pitches during the first inning against the Miami Marlins on Sept. 28 in New York.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Since then, however, he suffered a career-worst 4.28 ERA in 2019 before getting hurt the following spring.

After missing all of 2020, he returned to the mound at the end of last season for two one-inning starts.

Syndergaard and Minasian previously overlapped with the Toronto Blue Jays, the club that drafted Syndergaard in the first round in 2010 before trading him to the Mets as part of a deal for R.A. Dickey during the offseason in 2012. Minasian was the Blue Jays director of professional scouting at the time.

Now they’re set to reunite in Anaheim, with Minasian hoping Syndergaard can help bolster an Angels rotation that ranked 22nd in ERA, 26th in innings pitched and 16th in strikeout-to-walk rate.

During the MLB general managers’ meetings last week, Minasian made it clear the pitching staff needed to be upgraded, saying he wanted to add “aggressive” arms to the mix in a bid to make the team a contender next season.

Speaking to the media in Japan, Shohei Ohtani says he’s disappointed with how the season went for the Angels but also called it ‘a wonderful year.’

Syndergaard seemingly fits that bill. He has 777 career strikeouts and just 166 walks. He attacks with an upper-90s mph fastball and assortment of changeups, sliders and curveballs. And his nickname is Thor, after the mythical hammer-wielding god.

The question will be whether he can stay healthy, and if he can return to top form in his return from Tommy John surgery. The answers could go a long way to determining the Angels’ fate in 2022.


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