The 2023 offseason was a big one for the New York Yankees. Re-signing Aaron Judge alone solidified an impactful position in the lineup and in the field, but general manager Brian Cashman also managed to bring in a bonafide top-flight starter in Carlos Rodón, who’s arguably been a top-five pitcher in MLB over the last two seasons. It was rumored that the team was going to be aggressively pursuing Rodón, and they managed to cross the finish line with a deal on December 15th, 2022.
With the San Francisco Giants in 2022, Rodón had an incredible season. He finished sixth in the National League Cy Young voting, proving his 2021 breakout was no fluke.
2022 Statistics (with Giants): 31 games played, 178.0 IP, 2.88 ERA, 2.25 FIP, 33.4 K%, 7.3 BB%, 6.2 fWAR
2023 ZiPS Projections: 28 games played, 160.3 IP, 3.03 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 32.1 K%, 7.1 BB%, 4.6 fWAR
Rodón adds tons to the Yankees' pitching rotation that will be helpful in 2023. First, he’s left-handed, which helps to diversify the five starters even more (it gives Nestor Cortes a break from being the only left-handed starter in the rotation), and he’s a pitcher with huge strikeout abilities. His K/9 last season was the highest among all major league pitchers, just to give an example of the kind of results he can generate.
His fastball-slider combination is devastating to hitters, both generating slightly over 24 percent in the put-away percentage department, while his slider, in particular, generates whiffs 39 percent of the time. Rodón relies heavily on those two pitches, making a bit of a two-pitch guy, but that matters little when the pair of offerings is so utterly dominant.
Rodón’s elite stuff pushes the ceiling on the Yankee rotation that much higher. They now have four starters that have flashed ace-caliber skills, and Rodón gives them two starters that have generated ace-caliber results in each of the last two years. That kind of production could make the Yankee staff the best in the league, and should be a massive asset come October.
Now, this is all well and good, but the elephant in the room is that Rodón is dealing with a left forearm strain and will start the upcoming season on the injured list, which will leave him out of the lineup for a relatively long period of time. It’s not optimal for the Yankees at all, even though they have the depth to be okay for the time being.
Missing Rodón with no timetable for his return is going to hurt big time, especially with what feels like players dropping like flies as spring training continues to move forward. There isn’t a way that the Yankees can replace his kind of top-tier production. However, the priority is getting him back to full health. Getting Rodón pitching at the top of his abilities is paramount, with an eye toward keeping healthy into the postseason.
Fans were ecstatic to hear that Cashman got the guy they had been clamoring for all offseason. He makes the Yankees rotation possibly the best in baseball. But the priority is for him to stay on track and find a way to be fully healthy as soon as possible. There’s no doubt that he can be a very impactful pitcher, even if he misses a little bit of time regenerating the strength in his throwing arm. If he can get back to full strenght, then watching Rodón will be one of the most exciting parts of this 2023 Yankees campaign.