The Yankees are currently in the market for a premium starting pitcher, but the New York Mets beat them to the punch on Monday afternoon, signing Justin Verlander to a two-year contract. The Mets will pay Verlander $86.66 million over the first two years, which includes a vesting option in the third year. That matches Max Scherzer’s $43.33 million annual salary, as the Mets now feature a dangerous combination of pitchers.
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It’s now Carlos Rodon or nothing for the Yankees in the pitching market:
As for the Yankees, all of their attention now turns to Carlos Rodon, who is the last remaining elite starter available. At 29 years old, he posted a 2.88 ERA, 2.91 xFIP, 12 strikeouts per nine, and a 75.1% left-on-base rate over 178 innings this past season. Rodon has premium stuff and would make the Yankees significantly better, hosting one of the best rotations in the game.
However, with their attention also focused on Aaron Judge, there’s no guarantee they will spend big before retaining the superstar slugger. At this point in time, there’s reason to believe that the Yankees will take a more conservative approach despite teams around them spending egregiously to improve their rosters. It seems as if the Bombers are no longer the biggest players in New York, with the Mets clearly willing to spend big year after year on elite talent.
Nonetheless, walking away with Judge and Rodon would be a successful off-season, but the Yankees still have other needs, notably a left-fielder and a way to offload the contracts of Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson.
With Verlander getting exactly what he wanted on the open market, Rodon could increase his price tag, especially since he’s the last proven ace on the market.
Currently, he’s looking for a deal worth nearly $30 million per season for 5–6 years. The Yankees can get that done, but Rodon has only pitched over 150 innings twice in his eight-year career, so there may be longevity issues and maintenance that needs to be done.
Carlos has only made two postseason appearances in his career, which is another wildcard the Yankees may have to face down the road.