Carlos Rodon has been an elite holder for two years. Where could I sign?
Carlos Rodón enters free agency with a duel history to his name. For the first six years of his professional career, he was alternately injury-prone and ineffective. Over the last two seasons, he has clearly been one of the best pitchers in the MLB.
Fortunately for him, this winter he will be paid based on the latter. But he will still suffer from the mediocre years that preceded this breakup. Over the last decade, only three pitchers have entered free agency after a breakout year as valuable as Rodón’s, in terms of his 6.2 FanGraphs WAR. Two out of three Gerrit Cole i David Price, each signed for more than $200 million. Third, Patrick Corbinreceived $140 million.
Because of his history prior to 2021, Rodón estimates he will fall much closer to Corbin’s earnings than the other two. In fact, a contract worth exactly as much as Corbin’s is as good a guess as any.
But it is not difficult to construct an argument that justifies more. Corbin was more of a ticket eater. (In his historically awful 2022, he still was.) Rodón, when he’s right, is an ace. In 2022, he led the National League in strikeout rate, slugged elite-level homers, limited walks and made a career-high 31 starts. If he had a blemish, it was in innings: he completed just 178, about 50 short of the NL lead and less than six per outing. Rodón’s agent, Scott Boras, will surely argue that the lefty has the strength to handle more if his employer lets him.
Just two years ago, the White Sox Rodón non-tendered and returned it at the discount rate of $3 million. Just a year ago, after a breakout but injury-shortened season, the White Sox deemed Rodón unworthy of a qualifying offer. After that standout season, Rodón opted out of a $22.5 million salary in 2023, then, in a move, turned down a qualifying offer for slightly less money. Because they made a moderate bid on him a year ago, the Giants can now get a relatively high draft pick back if he signs elsewhere.
Here are some teams that could make sense as suitors for the upcoming 30-year-old, the consensus third-best starter available this offseason.
The Giants recognized Rodón’s potential better than his teammates last year. Considering how much they are expected to spend, it would make a lot of sense for the two sides to agree to a meeting again. Except for the incident where Rodón accidentally hit a teammate with a bat by Thairo Estrada knee, his tenure in the Bay Area went very well.
The 2022 Giants almost weren’t contenders, but there’s every indication that the 2023 Giants will be. To do that, they’ll likely need to add an elite starter. Logan Webb he’s a great young pitcher, but he doesn’t have the traditional profile of a No. 1 starter.
The Dodgers have already connected Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom, for obvious reasons. They are always involved in talks with top free agents, perhaps, on occasion, only as bait, and especially those who only require short-term contracts.
Remember, last offseason the Dodgers reportedly offered Rodon a one-year contract for slightly more than what he received from San Francisco in 2022. The Giants won the tender by offering the security of a second year with the flexibility of an option. – exit clause.
This time, Rodon is likely to make a short deal. But he also isn’t likely to sign for anything as much as Cole did three seasons ago. If he’s susceptible to a four-year, high-dollar offer, maybe the Dodgers could fit. with Walker Buehler recovering from Tommy John surgery, they have a rotation opening. When Buehler returns, Julio Urías will be a free agent.
I’m sure you’re used to it. As long as Steve Cohen owns the Mets, the Mets will make sense as a free agent home for anyone looking for a nine-figure contract. DeGrom’s potential departure only accentuates New York’s need for Rodón. Mets general manager Billy Eppler made a slew of free agent signings a year ago and struck out at an abnormally high rate, including middle-of-the-pack outfielders. Marc Canha i Starling Mars.
The Rangers represent the other underrated big-money option. Two top free agents, and a third standout, went there a year ago because of high-dollar offers. They weren’t close to fighting, though Corey Seager, Marcus Semien i Jon Gray all chose to make a long-term commitment to Texas. Neither of his debut seasons was a notable success, but neither was a particular disappointment.
Verlander has earned more than $300 million over the course of his career. deGrom has passed the $100 million mark this year. Including his hefty signing bonus, Rodón has yet to clear $50 million. If one of them goes strictly for the highest value deal, it might be him.
The Phillies possess the top-tier starting pitching that the four aforementioned teams lack. They also have a CEO and an owner with a proven willingness to spend. They are rumored to be shortstop sweepstakes candidates, but perhaps the top three will sign elsewhere and Rodón’s price will offer greater appeal than the fourth candidate in this competition: Dansby Swansonthat the consensus says that he will receive more money than Rodón.
It’s easy to imagine Rodón outlasting Swanson over the course of their contracts. In fact, the two have had similar careers so far. Both are high picks that debuted early but took a long time to break out. Swanson has been much more durable, but his value hinges on his defense at shortstop. He’s unlikely to be able to play the position well for the duration of his deal.
Other options for Rodón include the Chicago Cubs i Angels of Los Angeles, both of whom opted for inferior starting pitchers last offseason. The Angels sought short-term deals, declining to offer Rodón the security of a second season, while the Cubs sought a slightly longer but similar deal with Marcus Stroman. This time, they might have to pay more than triple what they offered last time.
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