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Thor Is An Angel

Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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The market for free agent starters continued to operate at a surprisingly swift pace on Tuesday as the Tigers finalized their previously-reported five-year, $77 million contract with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and the Angels agreed to a one-year, $21 million deal with right-hander Noah Syndergaard.

Syndergaard had a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer in hand from the Mets and there was some thought that he might accept it, but the 29-year-old wound up finding a larger guaranteed 2022 salary from an Angels organization that seems forever stuck in a search for rotation upgrades.

How much of an upgrade Syndergaard can be is the looming question at such a high cost.

On top of the $21 million payout, the Angels -- because of the declined QO -- must forfeit their second-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft and $500,000 in international bonus pool money. That’s for a pitcher who has logged only two innings at the major league level since September 2019. He needed Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in March 2020 and battled multiple setbacks throughout 2021.

Even if Syndergaard returns at full strength next year and there are no further physical complications, his innings total will probably be capped somewhere in the 120-140 range. In fantasy drafts next spring, he’ll likely be viewed as more of a mid-round flier than an early-round attraction because of the workload projections.

This could work out, to be fair. If all goes smoothly, it’s a potentially significant upgrade for an Angels rotation that registered a combined 4.78 ERA in 2021, the 22nd-worst starter ERA of all 30 MLB teams. Syndergaard’s career numbers, before he got sidetracked by the elbow troubles: 3.32 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9.

The grand dream is that Thor’s added presence to the pitching staff in Anaheim will help push Mike Trout into the postseason for just the second time and allow two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to put his unique skillset on display in crucial games.

And that Syndergaard himself will return to top-flight status ahead of age 30.

Blue Jays Lock Up Berrios

Jose Berrios would have been part of the free agent starting pitching class next winter, but he’s now spoken for through at least 2028 after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension with the Blue Jays on Tuesday morning.

The deal buys out his final year of arbitration eligibility and six seasons of free agency. Let’s call it $11 million for 2022 and $20 million annually for 2023-2028. It’s the second-largest contract in franchise history, behind only the six-year, $150 million free agent pact that George Springer signed with the Blue Jays last January.

Toronto acquired Berrios from Minnesota just before the trade deadline this past July for prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. In his 192 innings (32 starts) between the Twins and Jays, the 27-year-old right-hander delivered a sharp 3.52 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 204/45 K/BB ratio. His strikeout rate improved with the move, and the hope will be that there is even more swing-and-miss upside to tap into. Given his age and durability, that feels like a reasonable hope.

Look for more activity north of the border in the coming weeks and months. Toronto finished one game back of a spot in the 2021 AL Wild Card Game and will be hungry to take a big step forward in 2022 with a good amount of top-end talent already on the roster. There’s interest in keeping Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray, though keeping them both would be an unreasonable hope.

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2021 Manager(s) Of The Year

Awards season rolled on Tuesday with Giants manager Gabe Kapler being named 2021 National League Manager of the Year and Rays skipper Kevin Cash claiming that honor in the American League.

Kapler got 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes after guiding the Giants to a franchise-record 107 regular seasons wins this year. They won the National League West title for the first time since 2012 before ultimately falling to the Braves in the NLDS. Brewers manager Craig Counsell finished runner-up in the Baseball Writers’ Association balloting for the third time in the last four years. Mike Shildt, who was fired by the Cardinals last month, came in third.

Cash is a back-to-back winner, only the second back-to-back winner since the BBWAA established the Manager of the Year Award in 1983. Bobby Cox won it in 2004 and 2005 with the Braves. Cash received 19 first-place votes, topping second-place AL finisher Scott Servais of the Mariners and third-place finisher Dusty Baker of the Astros. Tampa Bay won 100 regular-season games this season en route to a second consecutive AL East title.

Quick Hits: As first reported by Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, Trevor Story has rejected the Rockies’ one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer for 2022 … According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Twins spent part of last week’s GM Meetings discussing a possible trade involving Byron Buxton … Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports Billy Eppler could be officially named Mets general manager on Thursday or Friday … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Red Sox are showing interest in free agent infielder Javier Baez … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Rangers are interested in Starling Marte … Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday that Jameson Taillon (ankle) is “making the right kind of progress.” … Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday that Aaron Hicks (wrist) is “in position” to play winter ball … Pirates released infielder Phillip Evans, catcher Taylor Davis, and right-hander Tanner Anderson … Angels re-signed INF/OF Jacob Gatewood to a minor league contract … Angels designated right-hander Junior Guerra for assignment … Howie Kendrick has joined the Phillies’ front office as a special assistant to the general manager.