Brian Cashman finally crossed the finish line with the best pitcher remaining on the market. Carlos Rodón is officially a part of the New York Yankees rotation, and the impact of adding a left-handed starter with as much strikeout power as he has cannot be understated.
If you are unfamiliar with Rodón or the kind of season he had last season, well, you’re in for a treat. He pitched in 31 games for the San Francisco Giants and ended the year with a 2.88 ERA, 2.25 FIP, 2.91 xFIP, and 6.2 fWAR. All of this came after his breakout 2021 with the Chicago White Sox, which was also very successful, though not as strong as this past season.(Still, when your second-best year is an All-Star campaign with a near-perfecto anyway, that’s not too shabby.)
The most notable stats for Rodón all circle around “K,” that magical letter that pitchers love: K’s, K/9, and K%. He led the entire league with an 11.98 strikeouts per nine and 33.4-percent K-rate, and sat third in MLB in total strikeouts with 237 — only 20 behind his now-Yankees co-ace, Gerrit Cole.
If the above visual doesn’t sell you on Rodón, then I’m not sure what else will. He’s an incredibly difficult pitcher to hit, garnering a ton of whiffs while also flashing elite percentile rates in expected batting average and expected slugging percentage. There might be a Yankee Stadium Special here or there, but Rodón’s historically hard to take yard too — his 0.72 HR/9 since the start of 2021 ranks fifth-best among pitchers with at least 300 innings under their belt. The contract of six years and $162 million for those numbers looks like it could be a steal if he manages to reproduce these seasons in Yankees pinstripes.
So what does the Yankees rotation look like with this signing on the books? I’m glad you asked. Gerrit Cole is the apparent No. 1, and Rodón will slide in as the No. 2 (though one could reasonably argue that they’re closer to 1A and 1B). It’s exhilarating to have two high-strikeout, high-velocity pitchers of opposite hands at the top of the rotation, and it’s something that separates the pitching from plenty of other teams in the American League and even in MLB generally.
Next is another lefty in another 2022 All-Star in Nestor Cortes, who sparkles with finesse while also typically striking out at least a batter per inning with his quietly impressive repertoire. Then, another electric pitcher in Luis Severino, who, when healthy, is a threat to strike plenty of hitters out on his own with nasty stuff. Finally, the No. 5 is trade deadline acquisition Frankie Montas, who didn’t light it up with the Yankees when he was in The Bronx, but is a talented pitcher nonetheless if he can find his groove. One might argue that this is the best rotation in baseball, and I’m not going to complain!
The Yankees sealing the deal with Rodón, even after signing Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Tommy Kahnle, is precisely what many fans wanted to see after another disappointing postseason exit. There is a commitment to winning, and despite the recent blowback that Cashman has received, he is doing the work to sign these high-profile guys. This is not to say the criticism wasn’t entirely undeserved, but this offseason has been a pretty successful one after reading the terms of this deal for a pitcher who has been hurling the ball at an almost-elite level, if not elite.
Not only did the Yankees sign a player with some incredible numbers to add to their already strong rotation, but they added a player that many have reason to believe will be very successful in New York. Who wouldn’t want this kind of energy in their rotation?
It has been a very stressful but eventful offseason for the Yankees, and this addition to the rotation is helping to seal their spot near the summit of the MLB power rankings. They aren’t without flaws, but they addressed a need with this deal (going above and beyond to replace the departed Jameson Taillon) and even in Hal Steinbrenner’s luxury tax games, the $27 million AAV is not bad at all for a pitcher of Rodón’s caliber.
There’s no reason not to be excited about this signing. Rodón is an incredible pitcher for Aaron Boone to have at his disposal, and he’s going to fire Yankee Stadium up into a frenzy against his old team for his Yankees debut in 2023.