On Tuesday, baseball fans learned of yet another signing. Following years of slow, boring offseasons, MLB is seeing more action than usual this early, largely due to the impending CBA expiration date on December 1. Just days after LHP Eduardo Rodriguez signed with the Detroit Tigers, another major arm was snatched off the open market.
The Los Angeles Angels made a big splash and signed RHP Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday. 'Thor', as he's dubbed by many, has not pitched consistently since 2019. The big right-hander did not appear in 2020 and only pitched in two games this past season. Now, he's due to make $21 million for one season with the Angels.
What's does this mean for baseball and the offseason? Are we going to see an uptick in signings? We certainly might, but there is more to this signing than just that. Let's take a look at how Syndergaard's signing impacts the Cubs and the league as a whole.
Does This Change the Cubs' Approach?
That's the question. It's a very good question as well when you think about it. Although the Cubs have expressed the ability to spend, do they really want to bet on players with injury history, such as Syndergaard, for that price?
Personally, I find that hard to believe. However, not everyone available in this market is Syndergaard. The Angels have given up a lot ($21 million and a second-round draft pick), but they've protected themselves with a one-year contract. If the right-hander pitches well, they can have first dibs at extending him. If he flops, then it remains a one-year experiment.
Back to the Cubs...
Let's circle back on how this impacts the Cubs. The Cubs have already made one move this offseason, claiming LHP Wade Miley off waivers from the Reds and subsequently picking up his one-year option. At just $10 million for one season, the Cubs found a workhorse who has pitched at least 28 starts in eight of 10 seasons, excluding the shortened 2020 campaign. In addition, they found that player for only $10 million (hammering that home) and for the same forward-looking flexibility as Syndergaard's contract.
The Cubs found a gem by acquiring Miley. However, as indicated by many, the Cubs are not done adding pitching. That said, will Syndergaard's contract inflate the price for the remaining pitchers on the market? Is this situation an outlier because the Angels are getting aggressive? All of a sudden, $21 million for a player that effectively hasn't pitched since 2019 is a lot of money. Yes, he's one of the highest upside arms on the market. Still, that's a sizeable commitment for a player with questions surrounding his durability.
Depending on the domino effect, the Cubs may aim for lesser arms this season than a big fish, say Marcus Stroman. Although the fit is there, maybe the Syndergaard contract has driven the price up on the available high-profile starters. We won't know for certain yet, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on.
How Does the Rest of the League React?
Again, another interesting question at hand. How will the rest of the MLB react to the news? The Toronto Blue Jays also made noise on Tuesday, extending pitcher Jose Berrios for seven seasons. It feels like the league is waking up like a sleeping giant, meaning more moves will continue to hit the news wire ahead of December 1.
Numerous reports have surfaced indicating some of the bigger free agents would like to sign ahead of the CBA expiration. If those reports hold merit, then there are a lot of players who only have about two weeks to find new homes before a potential stoppage this winter. As baseball fans and media, those watching from a distance might see the most active November in recent memory this year.
After seeing some pretty significant money being thrown around early in the offseason, it will be intriguing to see which teams spend and which teams sit on their hands. Now feels like a perfect opportunity for teams to find some level of finality for how their roster will shake out ahead of pitchers and catchers reporting in February.
The Angels have a reputation for flashy signings. Looking back on recent years, signings such as Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols sent waves through the MLB landscape. Now, the team has ponied up a lot of money for a player who has pitched two innings since 2019.
How this ripple will impact the rest of the metaphorical pool that is MLB remains to be seen. However, the move is one that has generated buzz and will lead to more questions and predictions from those who follow the sport. Buckle up baseball fans, we are in for an interesting ride the rest of the month.