Projecting a contract for Carlos Rodon, who is emerging as perfect Yankees target


Justin Verlander’s rumored Max Scherzer-like asking price? It’s just not going to happen. Neither is $40+ million per year for Jacob deGrom, who’s injured far too often for New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to stomach investing that kind of money. Time to be realistic.

When talking about re-signing Aaron Judge, Steinbrenner expressed a willingness to upgrade further, which could come in the form of … just about anything. More hitting or more pitching. Doesn’t matter. Fans would be pleased with either.

General manager Brian Cashman, when asked about why Jameson Taillon wasn’t given the qualifying offer, said he’d be content heading into 2023 with a starting rotation of Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas and Domingo German.

Is that serviceable? Absolutely. But you don’t have a fourth playoff starter or somebody ready to eat innings in the event someone gets injured (which always happens).

Wouldn’t it just be better to sign someone like Carlos Rodon (if there’s actually going to be more aggressive spending on the horizon) and move German into the hybrid spot starter/long relief role that he’s probably best suited for?

What would a Yankees contract for Carlos Rodon look like?

Tyler Anderson’s off the market after signing with the Angels. Martin Perez accepted the Rangers’ qualifying offer. That leaves Verlander, deGrom, Rodon, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt, Jose Quintana and Taillon as the likely best remaining options. Wouldn’t a bulldog left-hander be the best option for New York?

How much money is Rodon really going to cost? After rejecting the Giants’ qualifying offer, it’s likely he’s looking for $20+ million AAV, which is reasonable and doable. Bassitt and Eovaldi should get that, too, and Rodon is better than both when he’s at full strength. He’s also the youngest, entering his age-30 season and coming off the best two seasons of his career.

What if he got a Zack Wheeler-esque contract? The right-hander signed with the Phillies years back for five years and $118 million. This is similar to the recent deals handed out to Robbie Ray and Kevin Gausman last offseason. Rodon is likely in that tier of pitchers. Wheeler’s a good comp because he was effective when healthy, but suffered through injuries which undoubtedly affected his market. Since Rodon only has (barely) two healthy seasons under his belt, that could be the case for him in free agency too.

The Yankees can get creative with the finances if they’re wary of tax thresholds. Give Rodon less in Year 1 to keep the CBT number as low as possible, beef up Years 2 and 3 at ~$30 million and then decrease for Years 4 and 5. Maybe it could look something like this (let’s make the math easier and give the left-hander $120 million):

  • 2023 – $18 million
  • 2024 – $33 million
  • 2025 – $33 million
  • 2026 – $18 million
  • 2027 – $18 million

Next year, Severino’s $15 million comes off the books, as does Montas’ $7.7 million, Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s $6.5 million and Josh Donaldson’s $21.75 million. If they can get rid of Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres, that’ll be an additional $20-$25 million either this year or next year.

The Yankees need to prepare for beyond 2023 when it comes to their rotation, and locking in someone like Rodon gives them a formidable 1-2-3 punch while Cashman scours the free agency/trade market for back end arms in 2024 and 2025.