As we approach the 2022 MLB season, the New York Mets have to address the backend of their rotation. When we take a look at the roster right now, the Mets have four starters locked in for the rotation. Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. deGrom and Scherzer are a beautiful one-two punch and are arguable, when healthy, two of the top three pitchers in the entire league. Carrasco, even though his 2021 season was ruined by a lingering hamstring injury and underperformance, has a track record of major league success and you believe he will bounce back. Walker's 2021 was full of ups and downs, but you expect a nice end of the rotation arm that will provide necessary and solid depth.
With those four intact, the depth of rotation arms plummets into the unknown abyss. David Peterson and Tylor Megill are young pitchers who have shown glimpses of real talent at the major league level, but I don't feel comfortable giving either of them a locked rotation spot and are more suited to be awesome guys you bring up from Triple-A when an inevitable injury occurs or have to make a spot start. Joey Lucchesi is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and young prospects Jose Butto and Adam Oller, who even though have potential, are completely unproven at the major league level. The Mets need another solid rotational pitcher who can provide more depth and increase the line of defense. I believe the guy for the job is Carlos Rodon.
Rodon had a great 2021 season and by far the best in his career. He went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 132.2 innings. He struck out 185 batters while walking only 36. He had a 0.957 WHIP and a 2.65 FIP. He finished 5th in AL Cy Young Voting while also making his first All-Star team. He was nothing short of superb, even though he only made 24 starts. Even though he had a breakout season, he entered free agency with not much early interest. The White Sox declined to offer him the Qualifying Offer and went unsigned as the lockout went into effect.
Carlos Rodon to the Mets would be worth the risk
Rodon does not have a solid history when it comes to availability. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, missed most of the shortened 2020 with shoulder soreness, and also missed a month in 2021 from shoulder fatigue. Not great at all, and it's a reasonable explanation for his lack of interest in free agency before the lockout. Even with the injury concerns surrounding Rodon, the Mets should still take the risk and sign him. He would be a great addition to the staff and provide a high upside lefty option.
The four pitchers locked in our rotation right now are all right-handed. Rodon could provide a nice different look for hitters coming from the left-handed side. Rodon is a power pitcher, who uses his stuff to get hitters to swing and miss. When healthy he possesses a high 90's fastball with a mid 80's slider which runs in on righties and runs out on lefties. Rodon is most effective when his fastball plays up in the zone and when his slider plays down. The potential of Rodon is tantalizing, and he put it together last season. I feel like Rodon's upside is the highest of the available free agent starting pitchers left, and he is also entering his prime at age 29.
The real question is, what is a reasonable price for Rodon. It won't be a long-term deal, as the injury concerns of Rodon are very major and apparent. At the same time, the risk here is worth the reward. The best outcome is you get another number 2-3 starter, who can help you win games in the regular season, and potentially the playoffs. The worst outcome is that he blows out his shoulder or elbow at spring training and you don't have him the whole year. I do think with the advantage of Cohen's available resources, you can afford to sign another veteran starter behind him to either a major league deal or minor league deal where you are granted extra insurance. Sounds feasible to me.
The deal I would offer Rodon would be a one-year contract, worth around $12-13 million dollars, while including incentives that could boost the total value to $20 million. The incentives should be given if he hits the numbers of 24 starts, 27 starts, and 30 starts. If he hits 160 innings, and more if he reaches higher innings than that. I would also include a vesting option after the year, where if he hits 27 starts, he is locked in 20 million dollars for 2023. That way Rodon and the Mets both have what they want. Rodon at worst gets a one-year prove-it deal where he either hits big or goes home, and the Mets can get him on a reasonable and fair deal while also giving Rodon incentive to perform well and attempt to stay healthy.
We are still in the lockout and nobody knows how and when the season will unfold. But I do believe, when all is set and done, Rodon should be wearing the blue and orange and appearing at Citi Field, while attempting to help the New York Mets win their first championship in 36 years.