Giants to sign Carlos Rodon

3:21 p.m.: Rodon will earn $21.5 million in 2022 and $22.5 million in 2023, tweet USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

3:07 p.m.: The Giants have agreed to a two-year, $44 million deal with the southpaw Charles Rodon, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Rodon, a customer of Boras Corporation, can withdraw from the contract after the first year of the transaction. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported shortly before that Rodon was “very much in play” for the Giants.

Rodon, 29, is arguably the best starter on the market at this point after a breakout 2021 season. The former No. 3 overall came back from a string of injury-plagued seasons to put in the best performance of his career, dominating the American League for much of the season. Until the end of July, Rodon was one of the favorites for the Cy Young award, having thrown a sparkling 2.14 ERA with a sensational strikeout rate of 36.6% against a walk rate of 6.8%. .

Rodon overwhelmed the Astros on July 18, throwing seven scoreless innings and one hit and racking up 10 punches. It would, however, be the last time the southpaw would pitch more than five innings in one outing. Rodon lasted just four frames and allowed four runs in each of his next two starts. He bounced back to top a stripped Cubs team that had traded most of its roster, pitching five shutout innings with 11 strikeouts on Aug. 7.

Rodon then hit the injured list due to shoulder fatigue, returned Aug. 26, and made just five starts in the final 39 days of the regular season. He hit 80 pitches in just one of those five appearances, and his fastball sat at a significantly diminished 93.2 mph during that time. Rodon was still effective in that era (2.35 ERA in 23 innings), but his strikeout rate had dropped to 27.2% – still strong, but not quite elitist.

As the playoffs approached, Rodon’s status was a question mark, although he was eventually included on the ALDS roster and deemed good for an appearance in Game 4. Rodon returned throwing his fastball in the upper 90s, but he only lasted 2 2/3 innings in a game that would eventually bounce Chicago out of the playoffs.

Overall, Rodon finished the regular season with a 2.37 ERA, 34.6 percent strikeout rate, and 6.7 percent walk rate in 132 2/3 innings. He ranked among the league leaders in swing-strike rate, chasing opponents, and overall strikeout rate. Statcast generally considered Rodon’s escape ERA to be legit, pegging him to an “expected” ERA of 2.68 in addition to an expected .189 batting average for opponents and an expected slugging percentage of 0.316.

As if season-ending shoulder issues weren’t troublesome enough, further questions surrounding Rodon’s health emerged after the White Sox opted out of making him an $18.4 million qualifying offer. of dollars. The fact that the team that knew Rodon best weren’t comfortable with a one-year contract, even after a season of this caliber, cast serious doubts on the state of his shoulder. Earlier this morning, however, SNY’s Andy Martino tweeted that the medicals on Rodon were “actually very good”, citing several teams that had examined the southpaw. Obviously, the Giants agree to some extent, as they saw fit to promise Rodon more than double what he would have received upon signing a qualifying offer. Because Rodon didn’t receive the QO, the Giants won’t have to give up a draft pick to sign him — and the White Sox won’t receive any compensation for his departure.

Rodon’s contract may have two years guaranteed, but it’s essentially a more modern take on the often-seen one-year “pillow” contract. If he stays healthy and pitches well, Rodon will be a lock to get out of the contract in search of a nine-figure guarantee before what would be his 30-year-old season in 2023. (And, according to MLB and the MLBPA accept an international draft by July 25, he may not have to face a qualifying offer next winter.) Otherwise, he will always have the safety net of a large salary for the 2023 season – after which he would have another bite at the free agent apple.

The signing is not without risk for the Giants. Beyond Rodon’s season-ending shoulder issues, the southpaw had simply never played at this level before the 2021 season. It’s the type of performance the White Sox and their fans were hoping for when Rodon was drafted No. 3 overall and immediately ranked as one of the sport’s top pitching prospects. However, Rodon was more of a third or fourth starter for most of his Chicago career, throwing to a 4.01 ERA in 494 1/3 innings from 2015-18. Along the way, he faced to a litany of injury issues, ranging from minor issues like a sprained wrist to more serious problems in the shoulder (which required surgery in September 2017) and elbow (which required surgery from Tommy John in May 2017). 2019).

Red flags aside, this type of short-term, high-annual-value structure is one that Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is quite comfortable with. Zaidi, the former general manager of the Dodgers, has often pursued such arrangements in Los Angeles, and since joining the Giants he has clearly preferred to avoid long-term contracts, even if it means paying a premium. higher annual. Under Zaidi, the Giants have given no free agent contact over three years, and it was reported early in the offseason that the team was not inclined to pursue players believed to be ordering contracts at nine digits.

Notably, Rodon’s $22 million annual pay rate matches that of the former Giants right-hander. Kevin Gausman in Toronto, but Gausman ordered a five-year pact. Sure, Gausman has a better durability record, but Rodon certainly has the ability to match or even exceed Gausman’s output, provided he can stay on the mound.

Rodon becomes the fourth and likely final addition to the Giants rotation this winter. Four of San Francisco’s five starters – Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Johnny Cueto – reached free agency at the end of the season, leaving only the budding ace Logan Webb as a lock for the ’22 rotation. The Giants have since re-signed both DeSclafani (three years, $36 million) and Wood (two years, $25 million) while adding a veteran right-hander Alex Cobb (two years, $20 million).

Some extra depth could always be brought behind this quintet, as there is little experience behind them. Right-handed out of options Tyler Bede is likely tagged for a long relief role and is the sixth man on the depth chart, but the other names on the Giants’ 40-man roster (e.g. Samy Long, Sean Hjelle, Kervin Castro) have little experience or haven’t pitched in the Majors at all. San Francisco has Corey Oswalt in camp on a minor league deal, but the front office hasn’t exactly loaded on depth options to cover injury rotation innings. Given that Rodon, Wood and Cobb each have extremely long injury histories, additional veteran stability would be prudent.

That said, with Webb and Rodon now forming a formidable double and a trio of solid mid-rotation options behind them, the Giants have the potential for one of the best staffs in the National League. The Giants still have some work to do and look likely to find some punch to add to the roster in the coming days/weeks, but the rotation is in good shape and, unlike last season’s unit, can potentially stay in place for at least a year. beyond the next campaign.