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The Rodón Dilemma

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The southpaw continues to be challenged by injuries, so should the White Sox extend his time on the South Side into 2022 and possibly beyond?

Division Series - Houston Astros v Chicago White Sox - Game Four
Re-up, cut loose, QO? These are the times that make it hard to envy Rick Hahn.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Lefty pitcher Carlos Rodón became a free agent on Wednesday, and the question of whether he should return to the South Side is currently at the forefront of every fan’s mind.

Rodón was non-tendered after the 2020 season due to a string of injuries and a Tommy John surgery in 2019, but the White Sox re-signed him for one year, on what turned out to be a bargain salary of $3 million.

He is unlikely to have to settle for a mere seven figures per season in the near future, because whether he accepts a White Sox qualifying offer for 2022 or signs a long-term deal here or elsewhere, he is due for a significant raise. That raise, along with his continuing ailments, contributes to Rodón’s currently cloudy future with team.

Rodón came out strong in 2021, winning his first five starts with three shutouts among them. In his second start of the season, he pitched a no-hitter against Cleveland at Guaranteed Rate Field, seemingly proving that his strong spring training was no mirage, and that he was back in a big way. The second half of the season saw the wear and tear on his arm lead to more inconsistency. Rodón was supposed to start the first-ever game at Field of Dreams, but left shoulder fatigue meant that Lance Lynn snatched his spot.

So, should Rodón come back to the White Sox in 2022?

Waiting in the wings is righthander Michael Kopech, who is more than ready to step into the rotation. After missing 2019 after Tommy John surgery and opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kopech really proved his worth in 2021. Admittedly he showed signs of fatigue at times, but that is only understandable after two seasons off. With Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, and Lance Lynn confirmed as rotation mainstays in 2022, Kopech would make a great fourth starting pitcher, leaving Rodón and Dallas Keuchel with question marks over their heads.

Division Series “u2013 Astros v White Sox “u2013 Game Four
Michael Kopech is ready to move into the starting rotation, but what does that mean for Carlos Rodón and Dallas Keuchel?
Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Keuchel’s three-year, $55.5 million contract should fall short of the incentives necessary to vest for 2023 and thus will be up at the end of 2022. Given his price tag, it is highly unlikely the White Sox will be able to trade Keuchel away without having to eat some of his salary in the process. What do you do with an $18 million pitcher on the wane?

Rodón’s contract should be extended, but only on an $18.4 million, one-year, “prove it” deal that the qualifying offer accords. There is no denying that he’s an asset to the White Sox when he’s in good form, and he proved that with his ferocious start of Game 4 of the playoffs against the Houston Astros — but Rodón simply isn’t able to pitch a full season. I would suggest having Rodón and Keuchel share the fifth position in the starting rotation for 2022 — six pitchers to get through 162 starts is not crazy, given anticipated injuries and potential underperformance. It certainly doesn’t seem smart to cut Rodón loose when the White Sox don’t have anyone else — Garrett Crochet isn’t ready to start yet, even though there are very high hopes for him in future seasons. And nobody else in the system, from Triple-A Charlotte down to Arizona, is making waves.

Solutions all appear to be somewhat temporary at this stage, which is why a contract for Rodón longer than one year seems counterintuitive. The starting rotation should be revisited with serious consideration at the end of 2022, when Keuchel’s contract is up, Crochet is likely to be ready to move into starting, and Rodón’s durability is better proven.

In the meantime, Rodón is a strong stopper crucial to a run in 2022.

Poll

How do you approach Carlos Rodón?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Qualifying offer of $18.4 million, let him go if he rejects it.
    (108 votes)
  • 16%
    Qualifying offer of $18.4 million, sign him long-term if he rejects it.
    (30 votes)
  • 11%
    No QO, but sign him to a multi-year deal past 2022.
    (20 votes)
  • 11%
    Cut him loose, and wish him well.
    (21 votes)
179 votes total Vote Now