As the Orioles search for additions to their rotation, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that they had a Zoom call with Noah Syndergaard yesterday. Syndergaard is a free agent after playing out the past season with the Angels and Phillies.
It’s been widely reported that the Orioles have been searching for starting pitching, but avoiding the very top of the free agent class, so it makes sense that Syndergaard would have appeal to them.
Syndergaard, 30, turned in a 3.94 ERA across 134 2/3 innings in 2022, his first full year back from 2020 Tommy John surgery. He started his one-year, $21MM deal with the Angels but was dealt to the Phillies at the deadline. The former Met’s fastball was well down from his pre-surgery days, as it dropped around five miles an hour to sit at 94.5 mph in 2022, while his slider that once sat at 93.1 mph dropped to 85.1. As a result, his strikeout rate fell considerably (16.8 % vs 24.5% in 2019).
Today’s version of Syndergaard might not be the overpowering one that earned the nickname ’Thor’ at the Mets, but it still amounts to a very valuable pitcher, and he’s still young enough that perhaps he can claw back some of that lost velocity in 2023. To that end, ESPN’s Jeff Passan recently wrote that Syndergaard has been taking an analytic approach to his offseason work, training at Driveline and Tread Athletics. MLBTR predicted Syndergaard would receive a three-year, $36MM deal this winter.
The Orioles currently have some combination of Dean Kremer, Austin Voth, Tyler Wells, Kyle Bradish and top prospect Grayson Rodriguez penciled into their rotation. It’s a young group with plenty of question marks, so it certainly makes sense that they’d look to bump one or two of those names in favor of an external veteran addition or two.
Whether or not Syndergaard winds up in Baltimore, it seems almost certain that they’ll have a few names in their pitching ranks. The Orioles are looking to build from a promising 83-79 season in 2022, and the rotation is an area of focus. Should they miss on Syndergaard, the likes of Taijuan Walker, Jameson Taillon and Chris Bassitt could all have appeal.