Thor heads west
It seems the starting pitching market is moving first this year, as the first two players to ink new deals in free agency this year were starting pitchers, and we got another big one on Tuesday with Noah Syndergaard heading out west, signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. He’ll be paid $21 million for the season. The righty was given a qualifying offer from the Mets, but signs for a couple million more to go elsewhere.
Syndergaard has been one of the more talented pitchers in the game since he’s entered the majors, but injuries have often derailed any progress he’s made in his development. The righty, who will be in his age-29 season in 2022, threw only two innings this past season after undergoing Tommy John and missing all of the 2020 campaign. His last full season was in 2019, when he had middling results to go with an above-average FIP, though he was spectacular in all areas when he was able to pitch in seasons prior to that. The Mets now get a draft pick back after Syndergaard signed elsewhere.
And as for the Angels, at first glance this is a bit of a strange signing. It is clear, to be fair, that they desperately need pitching help. With arguably the two best players in the world on their roster, it’s unacceptable that they keep missing the postseason. That said, giving up a draft pick for a one-year deal is questionable. My guess is they are planning to sign multiple qualifying offer players, and we wouldn’t look at this with quite as much skepticism if he were the second or third such free agent they signed. There’s a ton of risk here, but the Angels need that upside in their rotation.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Syndergaard was definitely a potential target for the Red Sox, and in fact reports indicated they were among teams interested in the big righty’s services. While I’m not sure I’d want to take this risk for just a one-year deal while giving up a draft pick, though, so to me the impact is simply having one more option off the board. I don’t expect the Red Sox to rush things, though this market is moving a bit faster than I had expected.
José Berríos signs extension with Blue Jays
Shortly before the Syndergaard news, there was another big pitching move made, this time with an extension. The Toronto Blue Jays made a big splash at the trade deadline by bringing in José Berríos from the Minnesota Twins. They knew they’d have the righty for the second half of 2021 and all of 2022, and now they’ll have him even longer. Toronto inked him to a seven-year deal worth $131 million.
This feels like a great deal for the Blue Jays, even if the last couple of years of this long-term deal may not be as valuable as what they’ll get up front. But to get this kind of talent for less than $20 million a year is unexpected, even getting it done a year before he can hit the open market. Berríos, a former first rounder, will only be turning 28 next May, so there are a few more prime years left here. This past season he made 32 starts and pitched to a 3.52 ERA with a 3.47 FIP. While he can get into some homer trouble at times, he’s got top-notch stuff and is a really good number two on most teams.
Why Red Sox fans should care: This one is pretty obvious, no? The Blue Jays are going to be a major problem in this division for the next few years with a young and talented offense. Now they are supplementing that core with pitching, and Berríos can be a rotation anchor for the next half-decade. This is decidedly not good news for the Red Sox.
Manger of the Year winners announced
Award week continued on Tuesday with the best managers in each league announced. For the American League side, Kevin Cash won his second straight Manager of the Year honor. That’s the first time that has happened in AL history. On the other side, leading to Giants to a surprise 100-win season earned Gabe Kapler the nod. To be honest, this is just a hard award to judge from the outside that it’s hard for me to have any hard opinions.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Well, first of all, two former Red Sox players from the 2000s were the winners here, so that’s neat. Probably more important is that Alex Cora did not win, and wasn’t in the top three. Some of that is likely due, fairly or unfairly, to the circumstances that led to him being suspended for all of 2020, but again this is just a hard award to judge. Cora finished fifth in the voting, getting one first-place vote.
Arizona Fall League Update
A few Red Sox prospects got into game action down in the desert on Tuesday. Triston Casas unsurprisingly led the way for Boston players, getting the start at first base and getting on base all five times he came to the plate, walking three times and smacking a pair of singles. Kole Cottam, meanwhile, started behind the plate and went 1-5 with two strikeouts, and Christian Koss came in off the bench and went 0-2. On the mound, Brendan Cellucci was the lone Red Sox pitcher in this game, tossing a scoreless inning with a strikeout.