With Aaron Judge’s contract situation settled last week, the New York Yankees were finally able to move on to other business. They did just that Thursday, coming to terms on a six-year, $162 million deal with lefthander Carlos Rodón, arguably the best starting pitcher remaining on the free-agent market.
The deal, which was first reported by The New York Post, is yet to be finalized. It represents the 11th-highest total contract committed to a pitcher in major league history, according to Spotrac, with an average annual value of $27 million. The contract has a full no-trade clause.
Rodón, who turned 30 on Saturday, is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he had an ERA under 3.00. Drafted and developed by the Chicago White Sox after a standout career at North Carolina State, he blossomed into a star with Chicago in 2021. Then he signed a two-year, $44 million deal with the San Francisco Giants just before the 2022 season began — a deal that came together quickly after the lockout ended. He acclimated to the National League with ease, going 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts. He led major league starters with an average of 12 strikeouts per nine innings and was an All-Star for a second consecutive year.
The deal included an opt-out clause after one season that Rodón exercised.
In New York, Rodón should slot in near the top of the Yankees’ rotation, serving as a significant upgrade over righthander Jameson Taillon, who left the Yankees and signed a four-year, $68 million contract with the Chicago Cubs last week.
The Yankees’ starting rotation projects to be a strength, with Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Rodón all having All-Star potential. Righthander Frankie Montas, who was acquired in a deadline trade with Oakland, could be a terrific option as a fifth starter if he can recover from the injuries and inconsistency that plagued him last season.
While Rodón does not have the overall track record of Cole, he is nearly as dominant. Rodón has 422 strikeouts and only 88 walks over the past two seasons and came within one hit-batsmen of a perfect game in 2021, settling for a no-hitter against Cleveland.
Given his first shot at real free agency after the truncated process of last offseason, Rodón had interest from numerous teams and was considered by many to be the third-best pitcher on the market. He rose to the top when Jacob deGrom signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Texas Rangers and Justin Verlander signed a two-year, $86.66 million contract with the New York Mets.
While all three pitchers have dealt with serious arm injuries the past few seasons, Rodón is nearly 10 years younger than Verlander, who will turn 40 in February, and is four years younger than deGrom.
The Yankees still have other holes to fill, but with Judge re-signed and a top starting pitcher acquired, the team has accomplished two of its biggest goals of the offseason. The total cost: $522 million.