The Guardians have designated right-hander Noah Syndergaard for assignment, as noted by Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes. The Guardians have announced the move and indicated that a corresponding roster move will be announced tomorrow.
The 38th overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Blue Jays, Syndergaard made his major league debut with the Mets in 2015 and immediately had the look of a clear top-of-the-rotation arm. While he battled injuries throughout his Mets tenure, he posted a 3.31 ERA and 2.92 FIP in 716 innings of work alongside Jacob deGrom at the front of New York’s rotation from 2015-2019, with a 26.4% strikeout rate, 5.6% walk rate, and a 49.1% groundball rate. His best season came in 2016, when he dominated to the tune of a 2.60 ERA with an MLB-best 2.29 FIP, a strikeout rate of 29.3% and a groundball rate of 51.2%.
Syndergaard’s career hit a major snag in March of 2020, when the then-27-year-old righty underwent Tommy John surgery. He would miss the entire shortened 2020 campaign and almost all of the 2021 campaign as well, recording just two September relief appearances that year before hitting free agency.
Syndergaard split his 2022 campaign between the Angels and the Phillies, looking more like a soft-tossing back-of-the-rotation arm than the flamethrowing ace he had been earlier in his career. The results were still solid, however, as Syndergaard posted a 3.94 ERA and 3.83 FIP in 134 2/3 innings of work that year in the regular season. He then went on to pitch for the Phillies during their run to the World Series, allowing three runs in 8 1/3 postseason innings of work.
That solid if uninspiring return to action in 2022 earned Syndergaard a one-year deal with the Dodgers last December. While the sides were hopeful that Syndergaard would be able to build on his 2022 performance and regain some of his lost velocity another year removed from Tommy John, the 2023 campaign didn’t go how either party imagined it would. Through 12 starts with the Dodgers, Syndergaard looked completely outmatched with a disastrous 7.16 ERA across 55 1/3 innings of work, less than five innings per start.
Between Syndergaard’s troubling run prevention numbers and inability to pitch deep into games, the Dodgers moved on from him rather quickly even in spite of an injury-plagued season that saw every other member of their Opening Day rotation spend significant time on the injured list. LA placed Syndergaard on the IL himself with a finger blister in early June and did not appear in the majors again until he was dealt to Cleveland just before the trade deadline in a change-of-scenery swap that shipped Amed Rosario to the Dodgers.
Syndergaard ended up making five starts for the Guardians prior to the club’s decision today to move on from him. While his ERA improved with the club relative to his time with the Dodgers, his 4.94 figure was still 16% below average. To make matters worse, he struck out just 12.5% of batters faced while giving up a whopping seven homers in just 27 1/3 innings of work.
Given those brutal peripheral numbers, it’s hardly a shock that the club has decided to move on from Syndergaard in favor of seeing what they have in youngsters like Xzavion Curry, Hunter Gaddis, and Peyton Battenfield. It’s a particularly reasonable course of action considering the 62-69 Guardians, six games back in a weak AL Central with a 9-15 record so far in August, have seen their hopes of returning to the playoffs this year become considerably fainter over the past month since the club acquired Syndergaard.
As for Syndergaard, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers he’ll have the opportunity to return to the free agent market and look to catch on with another team. Brutal as his results have been this year, teams are always on the lookout for potential depth options, particularly on a no-risk minor league deal like the one Syndergaard would presumably command. To be eligible to participate in the postseason with his new club, Syndergaard will have to sign before September 1.
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