Noah Syndergaard’s career trajectory (Noah’s arc, if you will) has been an interesting and inconsistent one since his debut in 2015. He came up as part of the loaded pitching depth the Mets had at the time, and lived up to a lot of the hype during his early days in New York. He entered free agency for the first time last offseason, resulting in a one year, $21 million deal with the Angels, and was eventually traded to the Phillies. He is once again testing the market after a lackluster but fine 2022 season, but would he make much sense as a target for the Yankees?
2022 was a pretty average year for the big right-hander, as he posted a 3.94 ERA and 3.83 FIP over 134.2 innings; nothing that jumps off the page, but respectable. Perhaps the most important thing to consider form his year is that innings total. Syndergaard has long worked around injuries in his career, most notably missing all of 2020 and ‘21 (aside from a two inning cameo) with Tommy John surgery. Seeing him return with over 130 solid innings while avoiding time on the injured list is encouraging for him as well as potential suitors.
The concerning part about his most recent campaign was some of the flash he evidently lost since his prime with the Mets. His selling point early on, was his propensity to sit atop the fastball velocity leaderboards. After those two years off, and of course being 30 years old now, his figures have fallen to more pedestrian levels around 94 mph. He has also shied away from his four-seamer, opting for a sinker and slider combination more than ever before.
Likely as a result of those two changes, Syndergaard’s strikeout rate fell off a cliff in 2022. He was never quite Jacob deGrom out there, but his rate of 16.8 percent was nearly 10 percent lower than his career norms.
Syndergaard peaked with a rate of close to 30 percent in 2016, his best season in the majors, but now finds himself close to half that. If it’s any consolation, he did manage to post the lowest walk rate since his rookie year (5.5 percent) aside from his brief 30 inning 2017 season.
When healthy, Thor has never really posted a bad season in his career, with 2022 likely being his worst (a very solid “worst” season). He has a handful of really good ones, and a few where he probably performed a bit better than his surface level numbers would suggest.
After securing Aaron Judge, it appears the Yankees’ top priority is now a different starter in Carlos Rodón, another 30-year-old with a much more promising uphill trajectory. FanGraphs has Syndergaard projected to get $28 million over two years, which seems reasonable for a middle-to-back of the rotation starter with some upside. Once Rodón signs, the starting pitcher market becomes very iffy, with Syndergaard likely among the best and youngest available. If the Yankees can’t grab the talented lefty, Syndergaard may end up being a solid and relatively cheap backup option.
When he came up as the premier fireballer with the Mets in 2015, Syndergaard seemed destined for a lot of success, and likely a sizeable contract at some point. After battling through injuries and just by simply growing older, he’ll likely command a modest contract relative to what’s going around lately. But he has quietly put together a nice career when he can stay on the mound, and if some options fall through, he could end up being a reasonable add for the Yanks.
Noah Syndergaard and the Dodgers have agreed to a one-year deal, per source. @JeffPassan was on it.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 14, 2022
Well never mind then!