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Could the Astros add another Superhero: Thor? (Syndergaard)

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Taking a look at the Syndergaard rumors

You may have seen the rumblings from MLBTradeRumors that the Astros have interest in Noah Syndergaard. While it’s not confirmed the Mets would be looking to deal Syndergaard, there is speculation based on remaining control and current record. So let’s take a look at who Noah Syndergaard is.

Who is Noah Syndergaard?

Noah Seth Syndergaard, the 26 Right handed flame thrower of the Mets, was born in Mansfield Texas. although he grew up as a Texas Rangers fan. At 6’6 240 lbs, Syndergaard has an ideal pitchers body and the ability to dial up his fastball into the high 90’s. Here was John Sickels article on him back in 2013:

Noah Syndergaard is one of my very favorite prospects. A supplemental first round pick in 2010 from high school in Texas, he’s thrived thus far in pro ball, generating very enthusiastic scouting reports to go along with excellent statistics. Syndergaard has a 92-98 MPH sinking fastball that gets on top of hitters quickly. He picks up a lot of grounders (2.16 GO/AO), while maintaining a strong strikeout rate (122/31 K/BB in 104 innings in Low-A, just 81 hits). He’s developed a very good changeup, and I think his curveball is underrated. He commands all three pitches well, shows positive mound presence, and seems like he will be durable. The Blue Jays have managed his workload well. Assuming no injuries or weird command slippages, Syndergaard can develop into a number two starter. I really like him. He was traded to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal. Grade A-.”

MLB Performance

Syndergaard undeniably has ace-caliber stuff. His career 43-26, 3.23 ERA with 9.72 K/9 and 2.11 BB/9 highlights his performance from a traditional stats component. The advanced stats are equally as kind, with a 2.88 FIP, 3.13 xFIP, and 3.23 SIERA. He had a 5.9 WAR season in 2016 which brought him his only All-Star nod and an 8th place finish in the Cy Young race.

This year has been the worst of Thor’s career, with a 4.68 ERA and the advanced stats 4.22 xFIP / 4.27 SIERA not showing any indications of simply “bad luck”. His xwOBA also supports it being the worst of his career, but at .280 he’s still a well above average pitcher.

From a velocity standpoint, Thor still manages an average of 97.7 MPH on his fastball, which is one of the fastest in the league but is down from his 2016-17 (98.6).

Another factor is his injury history associated with Thor. With trips to the disabled list on 5/22/14, 6/11/14, 5/1/17 (partial tear in right lat muscle), 5/29/18 (strained ligament in right index finger), 7/23/18 (listed as Hand, foot, and mouth disease), 6/16/19 (right hamstring strain)

Statcast - Baseball-Savant

Syndergaard’s 5 pitch arsenal is not the ideal match with the Astros methodology / “Strom Magic”. Despite having one of the fastest average velocity 4-Seamers in all of baseball, his spin rate is below average.

I basically never write about the offensive prowess of a pitcher, for good reason. Though I figured it was worth mentioning that since 2015 Syndergaard has the 4th highest wRC+ of all pitchers with 150+ PA. His .163/.218/.291 triple slash for a 39 wRC+ is nothing special in the grand scheme of things, but I figured it was worth mentioning as we eye the World Series and every slight advantage matters. (Although, it’s more of an interesting than a useful fact.

What would it cost?

This is always a very subjective component, since trading seems to be almost as much art as science. With that said, we will look at excess value based on projections which I will just double based on the 2 years. A very inexact science, so I am completely open to discussion on fair value.

With Syndergaard, this gets especially difficult as he has quite a few years of control remaining, and his performance this year is a significant decline from his career averages. At just 26, you would not assume his decline is age based as he should actually be at the beginning of his prime based on standard aging curves.

For the sake of simplicity, I am going to use his average WAR/year so far in his career as it will calculate in the missed time he has had from injuries. Thor has averaged 3.5 WAR / season since 2015 and it is what I will use in the calculations for excess value.

On the salary side, Thor was Super 2 which increases his overall salary across his remaining years of control. For simplicity’s sake, we will use 12 his current salary ($6 M -> $3 Mil) + $9 Mil next year and $12.5 the following.

3.5 WAR x 2.5 Seasons x $9 Mil / WAR = $78.75 Mil in Value

$3 Mil (2019) + $9 Mil (2020) + $12.5 Mil (2021) = $24.5 Mil in Cost

Total Excess Value = $54.25 Mil

Using Fangraphs Prospect Valuation and Values outside of the top 100, here were the Astros values to build a comparable value in the trade package:

Fangraphs
Fangraphs

And here were the Pre-season rankings for the Astros prospects

Fangraphs

Conclusion

I was excited for the thought of adding Syndergaard to the Astros when I started the article. As I did more research, I was a bit disappointed. Syndergaard has the build, pedigree, and results of an ace with club control, basically what every team is looking for. But his current performance does not look to be a fluke, and he does not fit the Astros mold of a pitcher.

On the other hand, the cost for Syndergaard was also lower than I had anticipated. $54 Million in excess value is a significant chunk and probably generous in regards to his actual value, but it’s possible to build a package without Tucker/Whitley/Alvarez which would make any trade more palatable.

A quick look of what Syndergaard could look like in an Astros uniform

Let us know your thoughts. Would you want the Astros to pursue a Syndergaard trade? What would you trade for him? What did you disagree with in my analysis and/or how would you like to see it improved?