Christmas came early for the Yankees! Less than two weeks after the Yankees brought Aaron Judge back on a record-breaking free agent contract, the team made their second giant splash of the winter landing Carlos Rodón on a six-year, $162 million deal.
Rodon Yankees deal: 6/162mm. Full no trade— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2022
In Rodón, the Yankees are receiving likely the best pitcher on the free agent market this offseason — including Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander — when you consider all factors including age, ability, and projections.
Carlos Rodon MLB Ranks Since 2021 (min. 300 IP):— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) December 16, 2022
ERA - 4th
FIP - 1st
K% - 1st
Opp BA - 2nd
fWAR - 3rd
In fact, not only was he the best starter available, he has a solid case as one of the top-three starting pitchers in all of baseball over the last two seasons. He is the prototypical ace of the modern era, with 99th percentile stuff that generates whiffs and strikeouts in bunches. He also meshes perfectly with the philosophy in the Yankees’ pitching room, his embrace of advanced analytics, pitch tracking data, and biomechanic feedback allowing him to unlock maximum effectiveness from his pitches.
Added to the top of the Yankees rotation, it’s hard not to pick their starting staff as the very best in baseball.
The @Yankees now have the very best starting rotation in baseball (according to @fangraphs, at least)!— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) December 16, 2022
⚾️ Carlos Rodón
⚾️ Gerrit Cole
⚾️ Nestor Cortes
⚾️ Frankie Montas
⚾️ Luis Severinopic.twitter.com/cb3iAtCWyn
All five pitchers have ace-level potential on their day. Rodón is an enormous upgrade over the departed Jameson Taillon, as the Yankees have essentially replaced a league-average No. 4 with the most consistently dominant No. 1 of the last two years.
Carlos Rodón essentially replaces Jameson Taillon in the #Yankees' rotation. Based on his 100 ERA+, Taillon has been exactly league-average each of the last 2 years.— Gary Phillips (@GaryHPhillips) December 16, 2022
Rodón, coming off 2 straight All-Star appearances, has a 157 ERA+ since 2021.
And the similarities in pitching styles of several members of that rotation can create a synergistic benefit to all involved through transmission of ideas and information in conversations and in the lab.
I think signing Rodon is going to help take the pressure off Gerrit Cole in a big way. Cole is still the best pitcher on the Yankees. But he doesn’t have to feel the pressure to win every start anymore. He has an ace right behind him to pick him up if needed. That’s important— Rational Yankees (Giants) Fan (@rational_yankee) December 16, 2022
Not only does Rodón potentially take pressure off Gerrit Cole to be the guy in the rotation, but we could potentially see the two pitchers push each other to new heights in a bit of intra-rotation friendly competition. The pair are the preeminent strikeout artists of their generation of starting pitchers.
Gerrit Cole set a Yankees’ single-season record with 257 strikeouts in 2022— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) December 16, 2022
Carlos Rodón had 237 K’s
The Yankees have had 6 individual seasons of 230+ K’s (2 by Cole). They’ve never had 2 pitchers reach that mark in the same season
Already, we’re dreaming of an AL Cy Young race for the ages between the two workhorses, the strikeout crown potentially coming down to their final respective starts of the season. It’s not just the internal competition that can benefit Cole — like the Yankees’ ace, Rodón throws one of the hardest fastballs in baseball, but also has the ability to add and subtract velocity throughout a contest — a talent usually reserved for only the best flamethrowers like Cole and Justin Verlander. I’m sure this shared ability will generate plenty of intriguing conversations.
I’ve brought this up before, but Carlos Rodón appears to be the biggest in-game velocity gainer in MLB. Last year, he averaged an increase of 1.1 mph after his first time through the order, by far the largest in the league. (He was first in 2021 too, at 1.4 mph.)— Lucas (@DBITLefty) December 16, 2022
But let’s not forget Nestor Cortes. Between him, Cole, and Rodón, the Yankees have stockpiled three of the best fastball-throwing starting pitchers in the league.
Most Strikeouts ending in a Fastball in 2022:— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) December 16, 2022
Nestor Cortes 144
Gerrit Cole 141
Carlos Rodon 135
The resemblance in pitching philosophy between Rodón and Cortes is exciting. Both attack the zone with rising four-seamers complemented by nasty sharp-breaking sliders. Seeing the way both men made the jump from overlooked arms to two of the best lefty starters in the game over the last few years gives added hope that they can collaborate as teammates to further refine the elements of their games that mirror each other.
Gerrit Cole (3.50 ERA) & Nestor Cortes (2.44 ERA) each made 25+ starts for NYY in 2022— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) December 16, 2022
Carlos Rodón had a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts
The last time the Yankees had 3 pitchers with a 3.50 ERA or lower, min 25 GS each, in a season:
1972 -- Steve Kline, Fritz Peterson, Mel Stottlemyre
Signing Rodón is a statement by the Yankees that they intend to win now and in the near future. Bringing back Judge was a massive step in that direction, but even shortly after the big man’s signing fans voiced their concerns that simply rolling it back with last year’s squad was not enough.
We know that a large part of negotiations with Judge concerned guarantees from Yankees ownership that they would build a contender around the returning face of their franchise to take maximum advantage of him re-donning the pinstripes.
Hal Steinbrenner promised Aaron Judge that they could handle his contract and still do more to improve the club. By adding Carlos Rodón, the #Yankees delivered.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 16, 2022
I think we can also finally put to bed the notion that Hal Steinbrenner is cheap and is unconcerned with winning. Sure, there’s still a heavy emphasis put on financial flexibility and the bottom line when looking at the long-term vision. But shelling out over a half-billion dollars in one offseason is a level of spending unseen since the free agent bonanza that preceded the 2009 season.
The #Yankees' offseason so far:— Gary Phillips (@GaryHPhillips) December 16, 2022
-Anthony Rizzo ($40M)
-Aaron Judge ($360M)
-Tommy Kahnle ($11.5M)
-Carlos Rodón ($162M)
With over half a billion committed, Hal Steinbrenner has delivered. And NY probably isn't done yet. Column @SInow: https://t.co/QXY761XAVk
It’s the type of business that fans have been crying out for ever since the birth of the Baby Bomber era. For a team with as vast reservoirs of wealth as the Yankees, it was dismaying to see the deference paid to the luxury tax and the attempts to leverage bargain buys into surplus value in lieu of pursuing top-of-the-market names. You can throw that out this winter. Finally, finally, the Yankees weaponized their single biggest advantage over the field: money.
Credit to Hal Steinbrenner for finally deciding to use the Yankees’ single biggest advantage over every other team to help them upgrade their roster— Not Hoodie Maybin (Clarke Schmidt Fan) (@HoodieMaybin) December 16, 2022
It’s almost like Steinbrenner heard the boos during Derek Jeter’s commemorative night at the Stadium and decided enough was enough.
booing Hal at Jeter Night extended the Yankees championship window— Bradford William Davis (@BWDBWDBWD) December 16, 2022
Hal Steinbrenner after being booed at Yankee Stadium pic.twitter.com/BkFie3AdUQ— Mike Dro (@MikeDro_) December 16, 2022
Speaking of that 2009 offseason when the team signed CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett, this winter is certainly taking on the feel of an all-in assault to win a title. If indeed the Yankees are pushing their chips to the middle of the table, there is work yet to be done.
Carlos Rodon is a perfect signing for the Yankees. There should be no complaints on him. Left-handed flame thrower that’ll get on the mound and say fuck you.— Gary Sheffield Jr. (@GarysheffieldJr) December 16, 2022
He’ll turn Cole into a menace as well.
Now the question remains: what are the Yankees doing at 3B…LF?
In Judge and Rodón, the Yankees filled two vacancies with two of the biggest stars at their position, which is where the parallels begin to emerge to Sabathia and Teixeira. The biggest remaining need on the team is left field, and if we use Burnett as a template, the Yankees will look to add an above-average starter in more of a floor-raising move when compared to the ceiling-shattering additions of Judge and Rodón. To this end, Andrew Benintendi seems to fit the bill perfectly, and for what it’s worth he’s the outfielder to whom the Yankees have been most concretely linked this winter (after Judge of course).
Bowden: “The Yankees had 3 goals going into the offseason. Sign Judge, Sign the best left handed starting pitcher in Rodòn and try to bring Andrew Benintendi back. They have checked the first 2 boxes.”— (@Judge2Stanton) December 16, 2022
Of course, we also have to praise the Yankees for the shrewdness with which they conducted the Rodón negotiations.
It was reported that Rodon was looking for 7 years and more than $200M.— Jimmy Randazzo (@JimmyRandazzo) December 15, 2022
Players are getting paid right now. For example Xander was expected to get $180M and got $280M.
Someone is 100 percent going to pay more than 5 years for $125M. I’m guessing your answer is no? https://t.co/YCR7RzFODu
That's $27 million a year over six years for Carlos Rodon. I'm told the talks indeed started at seven years for $30 million a year. #Yankees— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) December 16, 2022
Multiple reports had Rodón’s camp seeking a seven-year pact in excess of $200 million, so for the Yankees to sign him for at least $40 million less than his asking price is an absolute steal. And when you consider the amount of money and years being thrown around this winter, to get Rodón at an uninflated price and term makes it even more of a coup.
It’s hard not to feel a little sympathy for the Giants, who struck out on their two biggest targets this winter — with the extra twist of the knife being that both players spurned them for the Yankees.
Cool off-season plan you got there. Would be a shame if something happened to it... pic.twitter.com/1ZnEdcNAEI— Joe LoGrippo (@Joe_LoGrippo) December 16, 2022
I reckon they aren’t too sore about it, considering they landed one of the other gems of the offseason, inking Carlos Correa to a 13-year, $350 million deal to become the new face of their franchise.
In the aftermath of Rodón signing, we learned this little nugget that was just too good not to include.
Well, this was remarkable: Boras wrapped up negotiations with the Yankees on Rodón while at Fenway Park and snacking on food provided by the Red Sox at the press conference to introduce Yoshida https://t.co/SkHXR63VzJ via @BostonGlobe— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 16, 2022
For Boras to cement Rodón’s move to the rival Yankees while attending a Red Sox press conference (and eating their food no less!) is just *chef’s kiss*.
And finally a bit of housekeeping: the Yankees have some roster machinations to work out in the coming weeks with the 40-man standing at 39 players. They will need to open up two more spaces to add all of Judge, Rodón, and Tommy Kahnle, though I reckon they won’t miss whichever players are the casualty of the roster crunch nearly as much as they’ll welcome the arrivals of their new additions.
BTW, Yankees have some roster space to clear. The 40-man is at 39, and they still have to add Kahnle, Judge, Rodon.— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) December 16, 2022