New York Yankees Prioritize Logic in Pursuit of Free Agent Carlos Rodón

Excitement and exhaustion perfectly described the mood after New York Yankees free agent outfielder Aaron Judge accepted a nine-year, $360 million contract to stay in the Bronx. Since rest was never an option for the Yankees, they are addressing other areas of improvement in a roster that won 99 ball games and an American League East division championship last season. At the recently concluded Baseball Winter Meetings, the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a four-year, $68 million contract with free agent right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon. The Yankees have decided not to extend an eligible one-year, $19.65 million offer to Taillon after winning $5.8 million in the final year of arbitration eligibility under Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

There have been rumors surrounding the Yankees and their interest in free agent short-back Carlos Correa, but left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón is a much more sensible buy given the gap in starting rotations Taillon has left. Last March, Rodón signed a two-year, $44 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The contract included an opt-out clause if he had scored 110 innings in the 2022 season. Given his injury history, there were concerns about the health of Rodón’s left elbow and shoulder.

In his 29-year-old season, Rodón had set career records in many statistical categories: hits scored (178.0), hits (237), games started (31) and wins (14). He led Major League Baseball in Fielding Independent Pitching (2.25) and Strikeout Per Nine Innings Pitched (12.0), according to Baseball-Reference. According to the terms of his contract, Rodón decided to forego a salary of $22.5 million for the 2023 season and applied for a free agent. Several football clubs are interested in Rodón, as it wouldn’t be surprising if Rodón signed a long-term contract worth close to $200 million and an average annual value of $30 million.

Last season, the Yankees used 11 starting pitchers in 894.1 hits. They ranked sixth in Major League Baseball in kicks from starting players, according to FanGraphs. The Yankees also finished fifth among ball clubs’ starting pitchers with 897 hits. Two of his pitchers were eclipsed in the 30 games he started and 175 hits: right-handed pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. More than 33 games kicked off, with Cole taking 257 hits and 200.2 hits. Taillon took 151 hits out of 177.1 hits from 32 starts.

If the Yankees had to come up with a job description for vacancies, it would look something like this: championship caliber ball club looking for a healthy starting pitcher with at least five years of experience in regular and postseason competition. With over 175 circuits per year, the ideal candidate can initiate at least 30 ball games and accumulate 150 innings. A great exemplary teammate, the candidate must be able to thrive in a highly competitive environment while facing the various challenges presented by the leadership, fans and media. The ability to shoot left-handed is preferred along with a willingness to embrace analytics while receiving regular feedback from coaches and front desk managers.

The Yankees know that when it comes to starting pitchers, they work with an innings and batting gap. Ball clubs with fewer possibilities will likely fix the problem with lots of cheap pitchers to make up for the shortcomings. Despite Judge’s return to the Yankees, they are still at a disadvantage when it comes to comparisons to their current rivals, the 2022 world champion Houston Astros. Buying Rodón would be a necessity, not a luxury, given how the Astros upgraded their initial base position by signing 2020 American League Most Valuable Player José Abreu to a three-year, $58.5 million contract.

The 2023 Balance of Competitive Tax threshold is set at $233 million. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Yankees have already committed to 12 ball players with average annual salaries totaling $207.15 million for the purpose of the Competitive Balance Tax. This does not include estimated benefits for arbitration and pre-arbitration ball players, minor league ball players and ball players on a 40-man roster who have not yet confirmed their salaries for next season. According to Ronald Blum, Associated Press, The Yankees will owe Major League Baseball roughly $9.4 million in the coming days as they exceed the 2022 Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $230 million. Under the terms of the 2022-2026 collective bargaining agreement, the Yankees will be recognized as the first Competitive Equilibrium Taxpayer for the 2022 season.

The Yankees will likely find comfort in a five-year contract worth roughly $150 million for Rodón. However, if the Yankees sign him, there’s a very high price to be paid for Rodón’s services beyond a nine-figure free agent contract. Under the collective agreement, the Yankees would lose their second and fifth-highest picks in the 2023 draft and $1 million from the international jackpot pool if they signed Rodón for exceeding the 2022 Balance of Competition Tax threshold. Since the Giants have made a suitable offer to Rodón, if Rodón signs with another ball club, they will receive a compensatory selection in the 2023 audition after the Competitive Equilibrium Round B.

The Yankees should ask themselves a few sensible questions about Rodón. Are they willing to invest in another long-term contract for a 30-year-old beginning shooter with an average annual value of $30 million? How worried should the Yankees be about Rodón’s injury history? If Rodón is an upgrade over Taillon, will it help close the big gap between the Astros and the Yankees? How much are the Yankees willing to spend, given that they will likely be second-time Competitive Balance Taxpayers for the 2023 season if additional roster upgrades are needed through free agency?

Much has been said about how Aaron Judge bet on himself in freelance and won big. The same can be said for Carlos Rodón. In November 2021, the Chicago White Sox did not extend an eligible one-year, $18.4 million offer to Rodón after a season in which he made his first All-Star team while earning $3 million on a one-year contract, according to Cot’s. Baseball Contracts. Under the guidance of Agent Scott Boras, Rodón bet on himself with the San Francisco Giants and successfully activated the opt-out clause in his two-year contract. Expect Rodón to pay lavishly, and if the price is right, he may be wearing the venerable fine lines of the New York Yankees.

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