The New York Yankees were let down by many different things in the second half of 2022, but the rotation wasn’t necessarily among those disappointments. While the unit technically regressed after losing Luis Severino for several months (against his will) and gaining Frankie Montas, the team’s pitching was still strong entering October, even if it lacked a fire-breathing No. 2 behind Gerrit Cole (Nestor Cortes is amazing, but breathes no fire).
Visions of Carlos Rodón or Justin Verlander this offseason always felt far-fetched for that reason. Without a big-ticket pitching acquisition, the Yankees’ pitching would remain just fine. Without Aaron Judge and some additional offensive punch, the offense would be extremely underwhelming.
That’s why it’s likely the Yankees supplement their staff with a Jameson Taillon replacement and nothing more. In that vein, no one makes more sense than Noah Syndergaard, who brings a preexisting relationship with Yankees strength guru Eric Cressey into his free agency.
The clear fit and solid performance reinventing himself on the fly following Tommy John surgery have led to an uptick in Yankees-Thor connections this week.
When The Lion in Texas speaks, we listen — but, in reality, even if the eponymous lion hadn’t drawn a line between the two camps on Tuesday, this connection is totally logical. Syndergaard’s no longer a sexy signing, but he makes perfect sense as The Next Taillon.
Could Yankees sign Noah Syndergaard in 2022-23 free agency?
Apparently, the Hal Steinbrenner-Steve Cohen detente doesn’t extend to players who were Mets before he took ownership of the team. Ditto the Yankees’ apparent pursuit of Michael Conforto.
Last season, Thor’s heater lagged behind its projections, and the strikeout numbers cratered (95 in 134.2 innings split between Anaheim and Philadelphia), but he delivered a league-average season (99 ERA+) while fighting an uphill battle against his own diminished strength.
Despite the complications of reinvention, Syndergaard still posted top-tier average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage against, and an offseason of Matt Blake (who Brian Cashman claims will return) and Cressey could do wonders for his arsenal and fortitude.
Rodón, Verlander and Jacob deGrom will not be walking through that door, but the Norse God of Brushback Pitchers (who’s now the Norse God of Competence) makes a lot of sense as a Domingo German upgrade.
While his raw stuff didn’t wow anyone in 2022, he transformed into a mid-rotation starter for a bad team and a back-end anchor for a good one, even securing a better-than-expected World Series start in Philly.
Syndergaard should secure a two- or three-year contract this offseason. The Yankees would prefer a two-year commitment with an option for obvious reasons, and expect them to be heavily involved, unless the bidding goes wild and a team like the Angels wants to overpay for a return engagement.