Red Sox could gamble on upside of Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon will be an interesting case this offseason. He brings significant upside on the heels of his first All-Star campaign in which he posted a 2.37 ERA and 12.6 K/9. The lefty also carries some red flags that will make many teams hesitant to sign him.
The former No. 3 overall pick has never made more than 28 starts in a season due to a series of injuries. A biceps injury limited him to 12 starts in 2017 and he was shut down after 20 starts the following year after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Rodon missed most of the next two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Rodon was brilliant through his first 16 starts this season, improving to 8-3 with a 2.14 ERA after shutting out the Houston Astros over seven innings on July 18.
He seemed to wear down after that, failing to log more than five innings in any of his final eight starts. He remained productive with a 3.00 ERA while striking out 45 batters in his final 36 innings but there were some concerns. His fastball velocity declined from 96 mph to an average of about 94 mph over his final eight starts, dipping as low as 91 mph in his final regular season appearance, per FanGraphs. He allowed six home runs in his final eight starts after allowing only seven through his first 16 starts.
The second-half swoon was likely the result of fatigue. Rondon finished the regular season with 132 2/3 innings, his highest innings total since 2016. That’s hardly surprising considering how much time he’s missed in recent years. He won’t be a 200 inning workhorse (who is these days?) but Rodon should take another step forward to handling a reasonable starter’s workload next season. Building rotation depth around him and the support of a deep bullpen would help keep Rodon fresh for the long haul. He just needs to stay healthy.
The White Sox surprisingly didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Rodon. It’s unclear if the decision was motivated by their payroll or if they are concerned about his health. Either way, he appears to be on his way out of Chicago. Any team looking to sign him will need to have a high tolerance for injury risk but he’s one of the most talented pitchers on the market who isn’t tied to a qualifying offer. A one-year deal is a worthwhile gamble without a draft pick penalty.