Yankees could take big risk in free agency to land high upside starting pitcher

Alexander Wilson
carlos rodon, yankees

The New York Yankees have a long way to go before they can compete for another championship, having missed an opportunity to contend for the final series of the year in each of their last 10 seasons. General manager Brian Cashman has been given an open checkbook on a number of occasions to acquire talented players capable of leading them to a World Series, but their unfortunate player development has hurt the team tremendously, with options like Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and even Clint Frazier failing to reach their potential.

The pitching department has also experienced a myriad of failures, with Domingo German stalling his progress after domestic violence case saw him banned for half a season and Luis Severino dealing with significant injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries.

Cashman has tried to supplement those weaknesses with oft-injured pitchers hitting free agency or trading for suspect arms. Acquiring Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon last year to help lead the charge of the starting rotation was part of that strategy.

Unfortunately, neither were able to piece together successful campaigns, as Kluber spent the majority of his season on injured reserve, and Taillon struggled considerably with location issues and velocity.

Cashman will once again be scouring the free-agent market when the lockout eventually comes to an end in the next few months. One name he may target is former Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon. Rodon, who has had his own injury issues in the past, posted a 2.37 ERA over 132.2 innings this past season.

Rodon collected 13 wins, a 12.55 strikeout per nine rate, and a career-high 82.2% left on-base percentage in 2021. His primary pitches are his fastball, slider, and change-up. He threw his fastball 58.6% of the time in 2021, hitting a career-high 95.4 mph on average. In fact, all three of his primary pitches increased exponentially in velocity, showcasing a change in fundamentals and throwing dynamic.

If Cashman could land Carlos on a one-year contract, the Yankees might be able to exercise his newfound success. Considering his inconsistencies in the past, a short-term deal would be ideal for the Bombers, but it would likely cost them a nice chunk of change. Somewhere in the $15-20 million per season range might get it done, but it is possible a needy team offers him a multi-year contract, which would be inadvisable.

Alternatively, the Yankees could turn their attention to Clayton Kershaw, who is also considered injury-prone. Nonetheless, he’s more of a proven commodity and will provide a bit more reliability in terms of quality. Rodon has really only experienced one year of dominant play, but his upside is fantastic and could give the Yankees a significant edge behind Gerrit Cole.