The Los Angeles Dodgers have added some much-needed rotation depth. Los Angeles and righty Noah Syndergaard have agreed to a contract, reports ESPN. It's a one-year deal worth $13 million with another $1.5 million in performance bonuses, per MLB.com. The team has not yet announced the move.
Syndergaard, 30, split 2022 between the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies. It was his first full season back from Tommy John surgery and he threw 134 2/3 innings with a 3.94 ERA while striking out a career low 16.8 percent of batters faced. His 42.8 percent ground ball rate was exactly league average, so he neither missed bats nor got grounders at an above-average rate.
Our R.J. Anderson did not rank Syndergaard among his top 50 free agents. He instead had Syndergaard among his just misses because of concerns about his sudden inability to miss bats. Here's the write-up:
Syndergaard's first full season since 2019 saw him pitch 25 times and amass a 103 ERA+ and a 3.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those are respectable marks, of course, but we have reservations about how he reached them. Syndergaard leaned into pitching to contact, especially after a trade to the Phillies. Over the course of his final 10 outings, he had an 84.1 percent contact rate. For reference, no pitcher with at least 10 starts this season had a full-season contact rate higher than 83.7 percent. If this is Syndergaard's new normal, he'll be sailing in uncharted territories. We're not sure how or if that's going to play, so we decided to leave him off instead of ranking him in the 40s.
Syndergaard will join stalwart lefties Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías in the rotation, as well as Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May, who will be in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. Righties Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove are slated to open the season as depth in Triple-A. Walker Buehler is expected to miss most of 2023 with Tommy John surgery.
For Syndergaard, the Dodgers are an ideal landing spot. Their pitcher development is state of the art and they're as good a bet to get him back on track as any organization, similar to Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney in 2022. The Dodgers also figure to contend next year, so they give Syndergaard a chance to win a World Series in addition to reviving his career.
Los Angeles went 111-51 this past season but lost to the NL West rival San Diego Padres in the NLDS.