The Philadelphia Phillies scouted Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard last Monday when the Halos hurler pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball against the Kansas City Royals.
Matt Gelb of The Athletic reported the news and gave some more context Saturday, three days ahead of the MLB trade deadline:
"Syndergaard is still owed about $7 million, but the Phillies are already past the luxury tax threshold and have room to spare before they would reach a tier that incurs further penalties. In years past, the Phillies treated the tax threshold as a soft cap and made transactions that reflected as much.
"This time, if the Angels are interested in some financial savings, the Phillies could assume the money and surrender a lesser prospect package."
The 29-year-old right-hander has gone 5-8 with a 3.83 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 64 strikeouts in 80 innings this year. He signed a one-year, $21 million contract with the Angels before the season.
The Angels are well out of the playoff picture at 42-58, and superstar Mike Trout is without a timetable to return after being diagnosed with a rare back condition. Los Angeles is probably best-served trading away some assets and hoping for brighter days in the future at this point.
Syndergaard is an obvious trade candidate, especially given him entering free agency next offseason.
The Phillies appear to be a good match on paper. For starters, they're in the thick of the National League wild-card race at 53-47, good enough to be tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's final playoff spot entering Saturday.
They also have an opening in the rotation with Zach Eflin (right knee soreness) currently without a timetable to return.
Left-hander Bailey Falter (0-3, 4.85 ERA, 1.39 WHIP) has taken that spot at the moment. He could very well keep it after his best outing of the year Friday (6 IP, 8 K, 2 ER) in a matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but adding reinforcements to the starting rotation appears to be a necessity if it's unknown when Eflin will return.
Syndergaard has been a steady force in the Angels' rotation, allowing no more than three earned runs in six of his last seven starts. He's also been racking up strikeouts of late, posting 24 over his last 21.2 frames.
In sum, a Syndergaard-Phillies union makes a lot of sense on paper. For now, he remains an Angel with his next start scheduled for Tuesday evening against the Oakland Athletics. It's unclear whether he will even be on the Angels by then, though.