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Yankees sign Carlos Rodón: Checking on media reactions to the deal

Signing Rodón gives the Yankees the best starting rotation in baseball and generated a flurry of reactions around the baseball world.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It’s almost like Steinbrenner heard the boos during Derek Jeter’s commemorative night at the Stadium and decided enough was enough.

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.

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).

Of course, we also have to praise the Yankees for the shrewdness with which they conducted the Rodón negotiations.

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.

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.

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.