The Yankees are expected to make a contract offer Carlos Rodon in the coming days, reports Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Heyman has suggested a few times that the Yankees have a serious interest in retaining the top free agent, and putting a formal proposal on the table would be a noteworthy step in that endeavor.
The terms of the proposal aren’t clear, though Heyman reiterates that New York is reluctant to offer the seven-plus guaranteed seasons the southpaw and his representatives at the Boras Corporation are reportedly seeking. A seventh year is a lofty goal for Rodón’s camp, assuming they don’t end up in a notable dip on an annual basis to compensate for the longer term. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as Heyman writes that they’re looking for a deal that exceeds $200 million in guarantees.
That’s rare territory considering only six pitchers have crossed the $200 million mark. Gerrit Cole stands head and shoulders above the pack with $324 million over nine years, while the rest of the group checks in between $206.5 million and $245 million. Stephen Strasbourg, David Price, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke are the only other pitchers to reach that level. A handful of additional free agent throwers (Kevin Brown, Mike Hampton, CC Sabathia and Barry Zito) have reached over seven years with deals under $200 million, but that in itself is a rare occurrence for a pitcher.
At the start of the off-season, MLBTR predicted a five-year, $140 million guarantee for Rodón. The free agent rotation market has generally been more robust than expected, and a deal of at least six years now seems very viable for the two-time All-Star. Landing a seventh season with an annual salary below the projected $28 million — lowering the average annual value of the deal and lowering the luxury tax burden for a signing team — could be on the table. That has been a common strategy this off-season, with Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Brandon Nimmo they all take small discounts on an annual basis for very long deals with larger warranties than predicted. The best of both worlds for Rodón, of course, would be a seven-year term that doesn’t give up on an annual basis. It remains to be seen if any team will go that far, with a seven-year pact requiring at least $28.57 million in annual salary to reach $200 million.
Rodón is the only free agent still available. Jacob de Grom and Justin Verlander were the two free agent pitchers who could match or beat Rodón from a performance perspective. Their age limited them to shorter deals (five and two years, respectively) than Rodón is looking for. At 30 years old, the former third general draftee has arguably the best combination of record and youth among this year’s class of pitchers. However, he is not without some question marks as a player with Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery on his injury history.
The North Carolina State product remained healthy in 2022, pitching a career-high 178 innings of 2.88 ERA ball for the Giants. He was brilliant for a second season in a row, knocking out a third of the opponents with solid control. Based on the rate, he is one of the top pitchers in the sport, but he doesn’t have the workload of a pitcher who previously made $200 million.
Cole, Strasburg, Price, Kershaw, Scherzer and Grienke all had multiple seasons with over 200 innings pitched before signing their mega deals; Rodón never reached that level. However, the workload for starting pitchers continues to decrease, and it stands to reason that teams will increasingly value performance per inning, while volume of work will weigh less as expectations for pitcher roles change.
New York and the incumbent Giants have tied Rodón and Heyman a few times added the Cardinals as a team with interest over the weekend. The Rangers, Mets and Blue Jays were tied to him earlier in the off-season, but Texas added later Andrew Heaney to join deGrom as Toronto agreed Chris Bassett This evening. The Mets landed each of Verlander, Josh Quintana and Koda Senga. The Orioles, Red Sox and Twins have also been very loosely associated with Rodón in previous reports, though the extent of interest from all three clubs is not clear.