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Angels lure Noah Syndergaard away from Mets

Angels general manager Perry Minasian made it clear at the annual GM Meetings that upgrading the starting pitching was going to be a top priority this offseason.

The Angels made their first major move to address the rotation on Tuesday, announcing a one-year deal worth $21 million with right-hander Noah Syndergaard. The deal became official late Tuesday night, and Minasian and Syndergaard are expected to meet with the media in the coming days. Syndergaard is set to make more in a season than any pitcher in Angels history, surpassing the $20 million that both Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson made in 2016.

The Mets had made Syndergaard the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer last week and now will receive Draft pick compensation for his departure. The Angels will sacrifice a second-round pick in the 2022 Draft while taking a high-risk, high-reward shot on Syndergaard in an effort to bolster their rotation behind two-way ace Shohei Ohtani.

But it’s the kind of move the Angels need to make to improve a rotation that in 2021 posted a 4.78 ERA, which ranked 22nd in the Majors. They haven’t had a winning record since 2015, but they are trying to build around a strong core that includes Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Jared Walsh and Ohtani but lacks impact pitching outside of the two-way star. Syndergaard is expected to join a rotation that includes youngsters Patrick Sandoval, José Suarez and Ohtani, and the club is expected to add two more starters this winter. Right-hander Alex Cobb remains in the mix and could be re-signed this offseason.

The Angels have other internal options who could be in the mix next year, such as Reid Detmers, Griffin Canning and Jaime Barría. But Minasian spoke last week about wanting to add an aggressive pitcher to that group, and Sydergaard fits that bill. He’s only thrown two innings over the last two seasons but has upside potential as an ace.

The 29-year-old Syndergaard, nicknamed “Thor,” missed most of the past two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020. The Mets were planning to have him return this past June, but right elbow inflammation set back his recovery timetable, and he ended up making two one-inning appearances in the final week of the regular season. On the advice of doctors, Syndergaard stopped throwing breaking balls after mid-May to avoid further bouts of inflammation.

Injuries have been an issue for the 6-foot-6 righty, who also missed significant time with a partially torn lat muscle in 2017 and a strained ligament in his right index finger in ’18. He made 32 starts combined in those two seasons. But the Angels can be careful with Syndergaard, as they utilize a six-man rotation to accommodate Ohtani. It’ll help Syndergaard from reaching an innings limit before the end of the season.

Syndergaard was healthy in 2019, making 32 starts and throwing a career-high 197 2/3 innings, but he battled inconsistency and allowed more earned runs (94) than anyone else in the NL while posting a 4.28 ERA.

Syndergaard’s best season came in 2016, when he recorded a 2.60 ERA with 218 strikeouts and an MLB-leading 2.29 FIP over 183 2/3 innings and finished eighth in the NL Cy Young Award race.

When healthy, Syndergaard has proven to be one of the game’s hardest throwers. In fact, reliever Aroldis Chapman (3,110) is the only pitcher who has thrown more pitches at 99 mph or faster under Statcast tracking (since 2015) than Syndergaard (1,241).

While Syndergaard has spent his entire big league career with the Mets, he was initially a member of the Blue Jays. Toronto selected the Texas native with the 38th-overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft before trading him to New York with Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas in December 2012, shortly after Dickey won the NL Cy Young Award.