Yankees Gamble Big With Carlos Rodon Contract

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The New York Yankees took a big gamble on Thursday, one no other MLB team in the market was willing to take. The Yanks signed oft-injured lefty Carlos Rodon to a massive, six-year, $162 million contract. While Rodon has been phenomenal when on the mound, he has struggled to stay healthy during his eight-year big league career. The stuff is there, but we have little evidence the 30-year-old will be worth this massive bet.

Rodon has been great the past two seasons. In 2021 with the Chicago White Sox, he went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, a 4.9 fWAR and 185 strikeouts in 132.2 innings. With the Giants in 2022, he followed that up by going 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, a 6.2 fWAR and 237 strikeouts in 178.0 innings. He was an All-Star in both seasons and they were his best two campaigns of his career by far.

So the Yankees are getting a 30-year-old coming off his best two seasons. What's the problem? Well, 2022 was the first time in his career Rodon has topped 30 starts, and he's thrown more than 140 innings twice (2016 and 2022). Rodon only made 12 starts in 2017, then opened the 2018 season on the disabled list due to a shoulder injury and only made 20 starts. In 2019 he underwent Tommy John surgery after seven starts, and returned to pitch in only four games in 2020. More shoulder issues popped up in 2021 when he only started 24 games.

That is a lot of wear and tear on Rodon's left arm in a short amount of time. Could he suddenly have found his health after long struggling to do so? Absolutely. But it would be rare if a pitcher with such a lengthy list of issues all of a suddenly turned things around. He was healthy in 2022, but there's no guarantee that pattern will hold.

If everyone manages to stay healthy, the Yankees likely have the best rotation in baseball. With Rodon, Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas, New York will boast an elite group. In 2021 without their new signing, the Yankees finished fourth in ERA despite some second half struggles. This addition should only enhance things.

Cole and Rodon are as good a one-two punch as exists in Major League Baseball right now. Across town Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander would have an argument but, when healthy, the Yankees can match them man-for-man. When you add in the depth that follows those top two, the Yankees should be American League favorites when the season rolls around.

This will truly be a fascinating contract for the Yankees and Rodon. It carries an average annual value of $27 million and lasts through the lefty's age 35 season. It could prove to be a bargain if he's actually on the mound. But that's a big "if."