Yankees heavily pursuing elite starting pitcher on free agent market

carlos rodon, yankees

The New York Yankees have enough salary space to land Aaron Judge and a premium starting pitcher. With Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon the primary names on the market, the Yankees have reportedly shifted their attention toward the latter option, who is looking for more years but far less money than Verlander, who is seeking a Max Scherzer-type of deal.

Recent reports indicated that Verlander is looking for a three-year, $130 million contract, which might be above what the Yankees are willing to spend to bolster the starting rotation.

However, that leaves Rodon as the immediate alternative, and coming off another fantastic season, he would slide right in next to Gerrit Cole as arguably the team’s top gun.

“Rodon remains in play for the Mets and Dodgers, though at least at the moment, the Yankees are the big-market team most focused on the 30-year-old who is expected to command a longer deal but at somewhat lower dollars.”

Per Jon Heyman of the NY Post.

There is a bit of concern regarding Rodon’s longevity, pitching a career-high 178 innings in 2022. He had only reached 150 innings once in his career back in 2016, so a bit of workload management will be a part of the strategy.

Luckily, the Bombers have players like Clarke Schmidt and Domingo Germán, who are capable of eating innings and supplementing a few starts to keep pitchers fresh down the stretch.

The Yankees and Giants are battling hard:

The Yankees still have competition for Rodon, though, as even the San Francisco Giants are looking to potentially retain him and make a legitimate push to sign Judge in free agency.

“The incumbent Giants are yet another team in on Rodon, so the Yankees are battling the Giants on two fronts, the even more prominent one being the battle for Aaron Judge.”

Rodon is elite, there is no arguing that, considering he posted a 2.88 ERA, 2.91 xFIP, and 12 strikeouts per 9 over 170 innings this past season. Rodon utilizes a 4-seam fastball and slider combination, two extremely effective pitches. In fact, his fastball generated a .213 average with a 28% whiff rate. His slider was even better, hosting a .193 average against with a 39% whiff rate and 24.2% put-away rate.

Rodon has one of the best sliders in the game, producing 54% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher. It is a lot less of a sweeping slider and more of a gyro slider, given the horizontal movement. However, as a lefty pitcher, the Yankees would have Rodon and Nestor Cortés as their unique starters, giving them a healthy balance of diversity.

At 29 years old, Carlos is projected to earn a five-year deal worth around $28 million per season. That means they would have him on the books for two extra years compared to Verlander, with a club option probable for the fifth season — at around $15 million less than what Verlander is looking for.

Conceivably, they could land Rodon and retain Andrew Benintendi for the price of Verlander, which might be the argument that general manager Brian Cashman would make.

Nonetheless, it is exciting to see that the Yankees are serious about improving their starting rotation, even though they’re retaining Cole, Luis Severino, Cortés, and Frankie Montas. There’s plenty of talent to go around, but they have an opportunity to build something truly special.

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