The Winter Meetings are complete, but there are still plenty of big names available in the MLB free agent market. One such name is Carlos Rodón. Rodón has been one of the game’s elite starters since the beginning of 2021, and is expected to be paid like one within the next few weeks. But which teams make the most sense for the lefty? There are many teams that could use Rodón’s services, but here’s five that are strong fits.
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Let’s start off with the team that Carlos Rodón was with last season: the San Francisco Giants. Rodón had a dominant 2022 for San Francisco, making the All-Star game yet again after a season that saw the lefty strike out 237 over 178 innings. San Francisco signed the left-hander after a strong 2021, and admirably filled the gap left after former Giant and current Blue Jay Kevin Gausman exited last offseason.
As things stand right now, the Giants’ rotation includes Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Jakob Junis, Alex Wood, and Anthony DeSclafani. Webb and Cobb, along with Rodón, helped keep the Giants afloat in 2022. With no real replacement on the market, it would make sense to try to keep the team’s ace around for the future. But, how much is San Francisco willing to spend to keep Rodón around?
Over the past 18 months, the Blue Jays’ brass has made significant upgrades to its rotation. Aside from the emergence of Alek Manoah, Toronto acquired Jose Berrios at the Trade Deadline in 2021. That was followed up last offseason with the acquisition of Kevin Gausman. Gausman replaced 2021 AL Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray in the Jays rotation, and was as advertised last year. The right-hander struck out 205 over 174.2 innings, and had a sparkling 1.4 BB/9 rate for his new team. Berrios, on the other hand, floundered last season.
Toronto’s rotation, aside from Manoah and Gausman, is in a peculiar position for 2023. Toronto needs a bounce-back season from Berrios, after the 28-year old’s strikeout and contact metrics went in the wrong direction in 2022. Ross Stripling pitched well for Toronto, but he is a free agent. And then, there’s Yusei Kikuchi, who struggled to throw meaningful innings for the Jays. With questions in the rotation, Rodón would make sense. Toronto has been quiet thus far, but has been willing to spend to bolster its young core over the past few offseasons.
The first phase of the Yankees offseason is complete. Part I included retaining two of the team’s best hitters in 2022, in Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge. Both have been locked up, moving the Yankees to Phase II; that is to add pieces. New York received strong seasons from Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes Jr. this past year, while Luis Severino provided a jolt in the second half. Still, the Yankees could very well use another starter to put the Bronx Bombers over the top in the AL East.
The Yankees have been heavily rumored to be interested in Rodón, as the team has reportedly has interest in the left-hander since the deadline. If the Yankees can make it work, a rotation featuring Rodón, Cole, Cortes Jr. and Severino can be a game-changer in the AL.
We now move to another team in the AL East, albeit one in a different place. The Orioles broke out in 2022 after years five losing seasons and a lengthy rebuild. Finally, Baltimore saw fruits of its labor in 2022. Star catcher Adley Rutschman established himself at the MLB level, and performances from the likes of Jorge Mateo, Austin Hays, and Anthony Santander propelled the O’s to an 83-win season.
The O’s added a veteran starter in Kyle Gibson to fortify a relatively young group of pitchers. Baltimore do have prospects in Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, the latter of whom made his debut this past season. Still, the idea of adding Rodón to a young team that could be poised to take another step forward in 2023 has to be tempting for the Orioles. The question at hand, though, would be whether Baltimore is willing to extend a large offer to sway him from heading to a more polished contender.
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros already possess a dominant pitching staff, but adding Rodón would make sense. After all, the ‘Stros are down one ace, as reigning AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander inked a two-year deal to head to Queens. Houston still returns Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Christian Javier, and Luis Garcia for 2023. Top prospect Hunter Brown also figures to be a key piece for Houston’s immediate future after a relatively strong, yet brief cameo in 2022.
Carlos Rodón would be more than an adequate replacement for Verlander, although Houston could opt to replace him internally and instead look to fill other holes. Signing Rodón would not only bolster an already talented staff, but also pull the left-hander away from the Yankees.