Wise to pass on: Carlos Rodon
Coming out of the lockout, Carlos Rodón was arguably the best free agent starting pitcher still available – and for good reason. The left-hander had a breakout season in 2021, finishing fifth in American League Cy Young voting with 13 wins and a 2.37 ERA for the division-wining Chicago White Sox. The former first-round pick allowed less than two earned runs in 16 of his 24 outings, including a no-hitter against Cleveland on April 14.
Last season’s success, however, did not translate to a long-term deal for the 29-year-old. Rodón eventually signed with the San Francisco Giants on a two-year, $44 million deal that includes an opt-out clause after 2022, meaning he can hit the open market again next year.
The lack of long-term offers correlates directly to Rodón’s pre-2021 resume and is exactly why the Mets were right to pass on him, even for a short-term deal. Over parts of six seasons from 2015-2020, Rodón owned a 4.14 ERA, good for just around league average. Control has also been an issue in the past, with 3.9 walks per nine innings over the same timeframe.
Aside from performance, Rodón has a history of injuries that likely gave interested teams pause. After making 51 starts in his first two seasons, the lefty made just 39 starts over the next three years and only four total appearances in 2020. Even last year, injuries and arm fatigue plagued Rodón down the stretch, as he logged just 28 innings over the final two months of the regular season and lasted just 2.2 innings in his only postseason start.
The Mets addressed their need for another starting pitcher post-lockout by trading with Oakland for Chris Bassitt. The key difference in acquiring Bassitt versus Rodon (aside from giving up prospects) is that Bassitt represents a more known commodity over the past few years than Rodón, both in terms of performance consistency and staying on the field. It’s very possible Rodón will build on his recent success, but with questions surrounding the back of the Mets rotation already, the risk associated with signing him was not worth it.