Toronto Blue Jays: One pitcher to consider signing next off-season

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Clover Park on March 03, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Clover Park on March 03, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2010, Noah Syndergaard was a highly regarded pitching prospect out of Legacy High School in Mansfield, Texas. The Blue Jays received the 38th overall pick in the supplemental round because they were unable to sign pitcher James Paxton the year prior, the pick the organization would use to sign the right-handed pitcher from Texas.

Syndergaard would spend 2.5 seasons in the Blue Jays organization, starting with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 2010 and working his way to the Class A Lansing Lugnuts in 2012. In the 2012/2013 off-season, the Texas native would be sent to the New York Mets alongside Travis d’Arnaud, Wuilmer Becerra, and John Buck in exchange for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and his personal catcher Josh Thole.

The trade was pretty monumental at the time considering a month prior was the blockbuster Blue Jays-Miami Marlins trade and both d’Arnaud and Syndergaard were pretty high on the Blue Jays prospect list when they got shipped off to the Mets organization. Dickey had won the NL Cy Young Award with the Mets in 2012 and was brought in to be one of the leading arms in the Blue Jays rotation, pitching with the team until 2016.

In 2015, Syndergaard would make his MLB debut with the Mets at 22 years old, starting 24 games and finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. Since his debut, ‘Thor’ has crafted a 3.31 ERA in 119 games, throwing 775 strikeouts, 166 walks, and a 1.161 WHIP in 716.0 innings pitched. The hard-throwing right-hander pitched well in his five years in the MLB before missing out on the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery in March. If all goes according to plan, Syndergaard should return sometime mid-season in either June or July, placing himself in a very strong Mets rotation that already boasts the likes of Jacob DeGrom and former Blue Jay Marcus Stroman. The right-hander also missed time in 2017 when he tore his right lat and would miss most of the season, pitching in only seven games.

As per Spotrac, the former Blue Jays draft pick will become a free agent this upcoming off-season in what appears to be a very stacked free-agent class boasting superstar infield talent like Trevor Story and Francisco Lindor as well as veteran pitchers in Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer. The Mets pitcher will be 29 years old when he becomes a free agent and should have a long list of suitors looking for his services when the signing period opens this Winter.

Considering the pitcher will be coming off TJ surgery this season, the risk is pretty high when it comes to the Blue Jays spending considerable money on Syndergaard, weighing the pros and cons as to whether he can replicate his strong 2016 and 2018 campaigns. Not to mention that the 2019 season was not the best in his career, pitching to a 4.28 ERA while striking out 202 batters over 197.2 innings leading the National League in earned runs at 94, and the risk will be there in regards to whether he can remain healthy and pitch like a top of the rotation arm that he would be brought in to be.

The right-hander should be on the Blue Jays radar based on a few reasons:

  1. He has the ability to start 24+ games a year, doing so in four of the five seasons he has started
  2. Ability to throw strikes and limit walks, crafting a career strikeout to walk ratio of 4.67 while also being able to pitch 9.74 strikeouts over nine innings and 2.09 walks over nine innings
  3. Postseason experience, pitching up to the World Series in 2015 and in the Wild Card game in 2016
  4. Ability to generate ground balls at 49.1% while also limiting flyballs to 29.6% which bodes well for a hitter-friendly park like the Rogers Centre

When Syndergaard is pitching well and with consistency, he would easily slot in as a great one-two punch alongside current ace Hyun Jin Ryu, which could be a game-changer when it comes to winning ball games through the season and giving the Blue Jays a better chance at making the postseason. Compliment Syndergaard and Ryu with a healthy Nate Pearson and the development of starting pitchers Simeon Woods-Richardson and Alek Manoah (both of whom could be ready for 2022 at some point in the season) and the Blue Jays could post one of the hardest throwing rotations in the league that has a good mix of both youthful talent and veteran experience (not to mention one of the tallest as well).

Ultimately the deal will have to fit the Blue Jays payroll considering prospects like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio will be needing raises through the arbitration process in the next few years (pending any potential extensions to buy out the arbitration years). Syndergaard will also hopefully return to form when he does pitch again this season, but the risk is certainly there when it comes to how he will return from TJ surgery and if he can still throw quality innings, go deep into ball games, and keep his velocity up that not only generates strikes but keeps the command and walks in check.

The Blue Jays will also have to deal with the fact that Syndergaard will most likely be given a qualifying offer from the Mets this off-season, an offer that the pitcher may accept if he doesn’t appear in a game until later in the season. That would not only mean the Blue Jays would have to wait another season to potentially sign Syndergaard but if he were to have a successful 2022 campaign, his price tag and list of suitors would grow exponentially, forcing the Blue Jays to potentially pony up more money to bring him to Toronto.

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If Ross Atkins and co. can lure Noah Syndergaard away from returning to the Mets or signing elsewhere in the league this upcoming off-season, the Blue Jays could improve the roster in a way that not only boasts a young, strong core in the batting order but also puts out a starting rotation that throws hard, throws strikes, and can help them win games to try and bring the World Series trophy back North of the border.