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Common sense and the Carlos Rodon decision

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Chris Sale's broken foot and Carlos Rodon filling his spot in the rotation in the spring training games, at least one beat writer think that the door has opened for him to start the season with the White Sox rotation.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune asked manager Robin Ventura whether this improves Rodon's chance to stick with the big league club.

"No," manager Robin Ventura said. "Again, you're going to see how he throws and what happens when we go out there. I don't think it increases anything. It just increases the fact that it will be somebody else that would have to fill in for (Sale). But I don't think it increases anybody's (chance )."

By force of habit, I began shaking my head, or SMH as they text.

"What?" Ventura asked.

"I disagree," I said. "But I'm not the manager."

"Right," he said. "I know."

Yeaaaaah Robin! Unfortunately, Sullivan was convinced that Carlos Rodon, who had not yet pitched in a spring training game, should stick with the club.   In Sullivan's eyes, he's already the third starter; although, unless he can use his changeup effectively, he kind of sounds a bit like Scott Ruffcorn.  For Sullivan, though, the decision is very easy.

So Rodon already passes the eye test and the mouth test. No doubt he'd pass the ear, nose and throat test too. Now it's up to the Sox brass to pass the brain test.

Unfortunately, to pass Paul Sullivan's "brain test", Carlos Rodon will have to start the season with the Chicago White Sox and not in Charlotte.  With Rodon striking out four in two innings in his first outing, the clamoring for him to start the season in Chicago is probably just starting.

While Paul Sullivan was writing about why Carlos Rodon should start the season in the White Sox rotation, Michael Bauman at Grantland was writing about why Kris Bryant won't be starting the season with the Cubs.  Our regular readers here know that we've discussed this extensively last August, but, as in Kris Bryant's case, service time is a major factor in Carlos Rodon's first regular season appearance with the White Sox.  For those not familiar, Bauman includes a very succinct summary of the service time factor.

There are about 183 calendar days in a major league season; anyone who spends 172 or more of those days on the active roster or major league disabled list is credited with a full year of service time, while players who spend less than that are credited with the fraction of the season they spent in the big leagues. Service time progresses players toward three primary milestones: arbitration eligibility (which takes a little less than three years, depending on moving goalposts that aren’t worth explaining here), free agency (six years), and a pension (10 years).

That means that to maximize Carlos Rodon's overall time with the White Sox, he needs to spend the first few weeks in Charlotte.  By doing that, the White Sox get to keep Rodon through the 2021 season.  If he starts the season with the Sox and stays the whole season, he'll likely be gone after the 2020 season.

Assuming Chris Sale will miss the first week or two of the season, with three days off in the first 10 days, the White Sox probably need a fifth starter for April 12.  That means that someone who has already started their service time clocks like Scott Carroll, Erik Johnson, or Brad Penny could be used for one game to bridge the gap until Chris Sale could return.

Meanwhile, the Sox would be in no immediate pressure to call up Carlos Rodon.  He could spend the needed time to get some additional reps with the changeup at Charlotte while waiting for a good time to call him up after service time concerns go away.  As Bauman put it, "From a business standpoint, it’s a no-brainer." For the White Sox' sake, I hope Rick Hahn and the Sox front office pass Michael Bauman's "brain test" and not Paul Sullivan's.