The White Sox made the somewhat surprising decision to not issue an $18.4MM qualifying offer to left-hander Carlos Rodón before this past Sunday’s deadline. That allowed Rodón to hit the open market unencumbered by draft pick forfeiture, and the Sox won’t receive any compensation if the All-Star signs elsewhere.
Rodón’s agent Scott Boras jokingly thanked the organization for not making a QO while speaking with reporters (including James Fegan of the Athletic) this afternoon. Boras flatly stated that they’d have declined a QO had it been made. Moreover, he seemed to shoot down the notion of Rodón signing a one-year deal with Chicago or anyone else this winter.
“Obviously, we’re pursuing a multi-year contract and weren’t going to sign a one-year contract,” Boras said. There’d been some thought Rodón could look to maximize his 2022 earnings on a one-year pact, hope to back up his stellar 2021 showing with another great season, then set out in search of nine figures next winter. It doesn’t seem that’s the course of action Rodón will take, at least not at the outset of the offseason.
A longer-term deal is certainly a justifiable goal. On an inning for inning basis, Rodón was one of the best pitchers in baseball this past season. He tossed 132 2/3 frames of 2.37 ERA ball, ranking second among the 129 hurlers with 100+ innings pitched. He also ranked second in strikeout rate (34.6%), third in strikeout/walk rate differential (27.9 percentage points), fourth in SIERA (2.96) and seventh in swinging strike percentage (15%).
The potential holdup on Rodón hasn’t been effectiveness, but health. He was limited to just 42 1/3 innings between 2019-20 because of injuries. After staying healthy for much of the 2021 campaign, Rodón wound up on the injured list with shoulder discomfort and missed a few weeks in August.
He continued to be very effective upon his return, but his fastball and slider velocity both dropped a couple ticks down the stretch. It’s plausible Rodón deliberately backed off the throttle in preparation for the playoffs, as the Sox had all but wrapped up the AL Central title by the end of July. His fastball velocity, at least, did bounce back during his lone postseason appearance. That outing lasted just 2 2/3 innings, though, and his slider remained in its late-season 84 MPH area rather than its usual 85-87 MPH range from May through July. The White Sox were eliminated by the Astros before Rodón had an opportunity to make another start.
Teams’ evaluations of Rodón’s shoulder figure to be critical to determining his eventual market power. Unsurprisingly, Boras told reporters that the 28-year-old (29 in December) is fully healthy. If team medical staffs agree, then Rodón looks likely to receive strong multi-year offers, since he’s one of a small group of free agent hurlers who has shown himself capable of putting up ace-like numbers at his best.