Rangers expected to pursue Carlos Rodón in free agency

The Rangers will be looking to add some pitching this offseason and clearly aren’t ruling out a run at the top of the market. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly reports that the club are planning a “strong push” for the southpaw Carlos Rodon.

Rodon, 30 in December, isn’t technically a free agent yet. Before the 2022 campaign, he signed a two-year, $44 million contract with the Giants. However, that deal allows Rodón to opt out after the first year of the deal, which he is expected to do. The only reason he had to settle for a short-term deal in the first place was because of health issues.

Rodón only pitched a combined 42 1/3 innings during 2019 and 2020 due to various injuries. In 2021, he was healthy enough to get to 132 2/3 frames on the year, but seemed to run out of gas as the season went on. Because of those durability concerns, he settled for a short deal with the Giants, but one that would allow him to return to the open market as long as he pitched a minimum of 110 innings.

That plan has gone exactly as envisioned for the southpaw as he stayed healthy all year, made 31 starts and logged a career-high 178 innings. The added quantity did not detract from quality either. He posted a 2.88 ERA with a 33.4% strikeout rate, 7.3% walk rate and 34.1% ground ball rate. He was worth 6.2 wins above replacement in the eyes of FanGraphs, the second-highest tally among all MLB pitchers this year, behind only Aaron Nola. Based on that excellent campaign, he will almost certainly opt out of the remaining $22.5MM of his deal and return to the open market.

While that solid performance means Rodon will become a free agent, it also means he’ll get paid. He’s supposed to be at the top of the free-agent starting pitching market, along with other opt-out holders. jacob degrom Y justin verlander. Those other two pitchers are older than Rodón and will be limited to shorter contracts with high average annual values, something like the Max Scherzer last year’s contract. Rodón, on the other hand, will be more analogous to robbie ray Y Kevin Gaussman. Ray and Gausman were free agents a year ago, with Ray entering his 30-year-old season as Rodón while Gausman was entering his 31-year-old campaign. Rodón has a case that he is as good, or perhaps better, than both of them. Here are his platform years…

  • Rodón: 178 innings, 33.4% strikeout rate, 7.3% walk rate, 34.1% ground ball rate, 6.5% HR/FB, 2.88 ERA, 2.83 SIERA, 2.25 FIP, 6.2 fWAR.
  • Ray: 193 1/3 innings, 32.1% strikeout rate, 6.7% walk rate, 37.2% ground ball rate, 15.9% HR/FB, 2.84 ERA, 3.21 SIERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.9 fWAR.
  • Gausman: 192 innings, 29.3% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk rate, 41.9% ground ball rate, 11.3% HR/FB, 2.81 ERA, 3.42 SIERA, 3 .00 FIP, 4.8 fWAR.

Rodón walked slightly more, but also struck out more and allowed far fewer home runs. Although the ERAs are very close, the advanced metrics prefer Rodón’s profile and give him the go-ahead. Teams interested in signing Rodón won’t be looking at just his most recent season, of course, with his past injuries still counting for something. However, Ray and Gausman also had warts on their respective résumés, with Ray not pitching as well during 2018-20 and Gausman struggling in 2019.

Ray received a qualifying offer a year ago, but Gausman was ineligible because he had already received one in his career. Both pitchers ended up receiving fairly similar contracts, as Ray signed with the Mariners for $115 million over five years, while Gausman signed with the Blue Jays for $110 million, also over five years. Like Ray, Rodon will receive and reject a qualified offer, even though it shouldn’t have a significant effect on his market.

For the Rangers, they spent big in free agency last year, giving big deals to corey seager Y marcus semien. Although those two players had good seasons, the team still disappointed, in large part because of their pitching. The team’s starters posted a 4.63 ERA, ranking them 25th out of 30 MLB teams. Advanced metrics like FIP and SIERA weren’t much kinder, coming in at 4.42 and 4.36, respectively. That’s part of the reason the club went 68-94 on the year.

One of the few pitchers to perform well for the Rangers this year was Martin Perez, although he is scheduled for free agency. There is apparently some mutual interest in a reunion next year, though nothing is set in stone yet. That leaves the Rangers with a rotation consisting of jon gray, dane dunning and some holes. There are some internal candidates to fill those gaps, though none of them ran strong campaigns in 2022. glen otto, Cole Ragan, taylor listen Y spencer howard each made at least eight starts for the Rangers in 2022, though all three posted ERAs of around 5.00 or higher.

Upgrading the rotation for 2023 is a pretty sensible move for the Rangers as they look to build a more competitive team in the future. General Manager chris young has indicated the club will increase payroll this year, apparently allowing them to consider spending at the top of the free-agent pitching market. The club exhausted an opening day payroll of $142 million in 2022, according to Cot’s baseball contracts. His outlay for 2023 is currently $99 million, according to Roster Resource, though that figure doesn’t include salaries for arbitration-eligible players or a $6 million option for Jose LeClerc. That LeClerc option and the refereeing class should see the Rangers earn around $115 million or so, leaving nearly $30 million to work with before they hit their 2022 number. How much they actually have to spend will depend on how much more is expected. raise the payroll this year.

The Rangers are sure to have some competition for Rodon’s services, with just about every team with competing designs looking to improve their starting rotation. Since it will be one of the best launchers available, he thinks it will be quite popular this winter. The Giants have already expressed interest in keeping him in San Francisco, for example. Whether the Rangers ultimately sign him specifically or not, it’s likely to be exciting news for club fans willing to match last year’s spending on position players by being equally aggressive on the pitching front this year.

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