Yankees Free Agency Buzz: Starting pitching market heating up, Rodon interest is real

carlos rodon, yankees
Jul 31, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (16) throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees need to be moving fast as the free agent market begins to heat up during the winter meetings. Waiting on Aaron Judge to figure out his future is not a sustainable strategy, especially if the team plans to continue adding pieces after his extension. With that being said, they need to be considering starting pitchers heavily at the moment, especially after Jacob deGrom signed a five-year, $185-million deal with the Texas Rangers on Friday.

The Yankees had requested a medical for deGrom, but it was a long shot he decided to stay in New York with his sight set on Texas. The top two starters on the market remain Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon, who the Yankees are reportedly both “in” on, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

The Yankees should target Carlos Rodon:

Verlander and Rodon are looking for different deals entirely, with the former seeking a three-year, $130 million deal and the latter looking for a five-year deal that could pay around $28 million per season. Clearly, Rodon would be a far more price-efficient signing, and after coming off a stellar 2022 campaign, there’s no question he would bring elite-level stuff to the Yankees’ rotation.

If Judge wants to go to a team that is willing to spend and continue building a World Series-caliber roster, signing Rodon before extending him would certainly show the level of aggressiveness he’s looking for.

Rodon seems to be the best option of the two, considering Verlander is 39 years old and doesn’t prefer to play with the Yankees. Rodon recorded a 2.88 ERA this past season with a 2.91 xFIP, 11.98 strikeouts per nine, and a 75.1% left on-base rate over 178 innings. He features a primary 4-seam fastball and slider combination. His fastball generated a .213 average with a 28% whiff rate in 2022, including a .193 average with his slider, including a 39% whiff rate.

Overall, he has some of the best stuff in the game, and the Bombers would immediately inject him into the top of their rotation alongside Gerrit Cole. The only concern is that he has minimal playoff experience and has never pitched 200 innings in his career. There is a slight concern that his longevity may be limited, which is why his price tag is a bit less than what Verlander desires.

Nonetheless, the Yankees have plenty of salary space in the future to lock down Rodon on a reasonable deal that would likely end up close to $10 million less per season than Cole despite recording better ERAs in the past two campaigns.

There is no reason for the Bombers to remain conservative in their free agency approach if they are keen on handing over expensive positions to their youth prospects. Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe project to earn starting jobs next season, if not in the near future, which would lock down two infield spots at extremely cheap price points.