We have our first major free-agent signing of the MLB offseason! After a lengthy lockout, the owners and players union agreed to a deal that ended the lockout last night around 7 PM ET. However, fans had to wait anxiously for the first deal to be announced, but we were rewarded with a big one as Carlos Rodon, one of the top free-agent starting pitchers on the market, signed with the San Francisco Giants.
So what does this mean for the left-hander and the Giants as we approach the 2022 season?
Left-handed starter Carlos Rodón and the San Francisco Giants are in agreement on a two-year, $44 million contract that includes an opt-out after the first season, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 11, 2022
What to Expect:
At this point, when the San Francisco Giants sign a veteran pitcher, we should be paying attention. After recent success signing and re-invigorating pitchers like Kevin Gausman, Anthony Desclafani, and Alex Wood, the Giants are turning their attention to the 29-year-old Rodon after the left-hander went 13-5 for the White Sox in 2021 with a 2.37 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 34.6% strikeout rate.
Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 draft but has battled injuries relatively consistently since throwing 165 innings in 2016. In 2017, Rodon started the season hurt and didn’t make his debut until June 28th. He would pitch only 69.1 innings that year before being shut down and undergoing shoulder surgery. He recovered enough to come back for 120.2 innings in 2018 and pitched to a 4.18 ERA, but he would get injured again in 2019 and have to undergo Tommy John surgery. When the White Sox signed him to a one-year deal before the 2021 season, it was the ultimate shot in the dark to see if the former top prospect still had it.
What they got was a brand new Rodon. He was able to get his lower body stronger during his time away and came back throwing 95.4 mph with his fastball, two mph faster than his last fully healthy season. He also made drastic changes to his slider, throwing it two mph harder and with double the vertical movement versus average (inches). As a result, the slider allowed just a .107 batting average against, a .126 slugging percentage against, and had a 40.6% whiff rate.
While there are some legitimate concerns about Rodon’s health and his ability to throw a third pitch (since his changeup wasn’t great), there were similar concerns about Gausman’s pitch mix and Alex Wood’s health, and the Giants had a clear plan for each of them. The Giants will likely take steps to ensure Rodon’s workload is managed during the year and have the pitching development track record to feel confident in assuming another good season will be in store for the left-hander.
Projected Lineup (or Rotation):
With the signing, the Giants rotation looks as follows:
|SP1||Logan Webb||148.1 IP in 2021||3.03 ERA||158 strikeouts|
|SP2||Carlos Rodon (LHP)||132.2 IP||2.37 ERA||185 strikeouts|
|SP3||Anthony Desclafani||167.2 IP||3.17 ERA||152 strikeouts|
|SP4||Alex Wood (LHP)||138.2 IP||3.83 ERA||152 strikeouts|
|SP5||Alex Cobb||93.1 IP||3.76 ERA||98 strikeouts|
The biggest pieces left to fall in the starting pitcher landscape remain Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Michael Pineda, which would have been an incredible list five years ago. As for the Giants, they could likely add a corner outfielder to play RF/DH now that there is a universal DH in baseball. With the Dodgers in their division, I wouldn’t expect the Giants to be done adding just yet.