Sources: The Dodgers fill the rotation hole as Noah Syndergaard makes a bet on himself

Sources: The Dodgers fill the rotation hole as Noah Syndergaard makes a bet on himself

Sources: The Dodgers fill the rotation hole as Noah Syndergaard makes a bet on himself

The Dodgers have found their career-rejuvenating draft seemingly annual, agreeing to terms with former All-Star right-hand man Noah Syndergaard on a one-year, $13 million deal, league sources said The Athletic.

Syndergaard, 30, had multi-year offers and guaranteed money elsewhere, a source said, but instead opted for the opportunity to work in the Dodgers’ pitch development factory and perhaps restore his market.

He will have the opportunity to earn an additional $1.5 million in incentives, a source said. So Syndergaard may re-enter the market after a chance to enjoy similar success as Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney, who each turned one-year contracts from the Dodgers (Anderson for $8 million, Heaney for $8.5 million) into multi-year earnings. Those two earned a total of $64 million guaranteed this winter in deals with the Angels and Rangers.

Syndergaard, one year away from earning $21 million in a one-year deal with the Angels, will fill a role similar to that provided by Anderson and Heaney. The Dodgers hope he can absorb the inning, especially early in the season, as they add potential pitchers Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone to the rotation.

As it stands, the Dodgers have most of their Opening Day rotation set, with room to add another type of swingman if needed in addition to Julio UrĂ­as, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Syndergaard.

With a few changes, the Dodgers’ hope is that they can find even more with Syndergaard.

The right-hander once looked poised to help the Mets usher in one of the most heralded rotations of an era. Syndergaard was part of a young New York pitching crop along with Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz. Each of those pitchers reached exciting individual heights but never achieved the Mets’ championship dreams.

Syndergaard, who embraced the nickname “Thor” that accompanied the triple-digit power sinkers that defined his repertoire, has been a very different pitcher since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2020. His promise was enough for the Angels to opt out of a draft and sign him to more than the Mets’ qualifying offer on a one-year deal, but Syndergaard’s speed failed to return to pre-op levels. His four-seam fastball average has dropped from 97.8 mph in 2019 to 94.1 mph in 2022, and his strikeout rate has also plummeted. Beyond speed, course characteristics have dropped from elite to merely average.

This, perhaps more than anything else, is what has left Syndergaard in a position to take less this winter than he did a year ago.

He still pitched reasonably well for the Angels despite poor pace. The Phillies acquired him on the trade deadline to solidify their postseason drive. In 134 2/3 innings with the two clubs, he pitched around an average league level with a 3.94 ERA and 103 ERA+. He’s evolved with his new stuff, relying on position to limit physical contact. He still has some underlying characteristics, like an above average reach, that make him interesting. There’s also hope that the Dodgers can help Syndergaard regain some of the speed that made him so dynamic; other pitchers within the Dodgers’ development pipeline, from Heaney to relievers Alex Vesia and Yency Almonte, have noticed a jump in speed as the Dodgers reworked their mechanics.

By choosing to sign in Los Angeles, avoiding major financial guarantees and assurances of a more solid role, Syndergaard is betting on himself. He sees the Dodgers as the best-equipped landing spot to deliver on his promise.

(Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today)

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