The Angels pitching staff makeover is underway.
On Tuesday, the team agreed to terms with starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard on a one-year, $21 million deal pending a physical, according to several media reports, striking a deal with the former All-Star to join their rotation for the 2022 season.
Syndergaard, 29, was one of the more interesting names on the free-agent market this winter. Once among baseball's most promising young pitchers, the right-hander has thrown only two innings the last two years after undergoing 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.
The Angels, however, reportedly 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. They now have about $151.5 million committed to next year's payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, including estimated salaries for arbitration and pre-arbitration players.
When healthy, Syndergaard showed 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.
Syndergaard's 2017 campaign was derailed by a muscle tear in his right lat. But he returned strong in 2018, going 13-4 with a 3.03 ERA, before suffering a slight dropoff in 2019, when he had a 4.28 mark.
After missing all of 2020, he returned to the mound at the end of last season for two one-inning starts.
Syndergaard and Angels general manager Perry 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.
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 change-ups, 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. With their first big move of the winter, the Angels were willing to bet that he can.©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.