A familiar name will be absent from the starting rotation come next season, unless the front office is willing to spend big.
The White Sox have elected to not make a qualifying offer to left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon ahead of Sunday’s deadline, leaving him as an unrestricted free agent. This move could also, more interestingly, signal the end of the two sides’ relationship.
For those not completely familiar, the qualifying offer is for one year and worth $18.4 million. If a player declines the offer, the team receives a compensation pick in the MLB Draft if it then loses him as a free agent. All 30 clubs had until 4:00 p.m. CT this afternoon to extend offers to eligible players, with the 28-year-old being the only one for the Sox.
Rodon, who’s coming off his first All-Star appearance, went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA (35 ER/132.2 IP), 185 strikeouts, 36 walks, 0.96 WHIP, and 2.65 FIP. Along with the lowest ERA by a Sox pitcher with at least 130 innings logged since Chris Sale in 2014, the lefty’s memorable season was highlighted by a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians back on April 14th.
Despite the high points, things went south by the time September rolled around. Arm soreness and fatigue became a major issue for Rodon that led him to lose velocity, struggle, and miss starts. While he did manage to pump 99 mph during his Game 4 ALDS outing against Houston, questions surrounding his health will only linger as he hits free agency – especially given his extensive medical history.
Though it’s hard to suggest a reunion is still on the table after today, we can’t completely rule it out based on what general manager Rick Hahn had to say on the situation during his press conference on Friday.
“I can certainly praise how fantastic he was for us over the bulk of the season and (say) that it would be great to figure out a way to bring him back in some capacity.”
“Obviously this isn’t our first foray into free agency with Carlos. We had a similar situation… last offseason when we had an interest in bringing him back and were able to work it out then, as well. We’ll see how the market unfolds. He’s coming from a much better position, which we all benefited from over the course of the ’21 season.
Whether this is classic Rick Hahn verbiage to satisfy all parties or not, there seems to be a small likelihood of Rodon coming back based on the demand he’ll likely command. So, now would be an appropriate time to pop the question of what happens next?
On paper, the White Sox currently have a probable 2022 rotation of Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, and – love him or hate him – Dallas Keuchel. Depending on how Keuchel performs, he could be DFA’d and out of the rotation as quickly as he was dropped in. Likewise, Kopech being asked to pitch 150+ innings is no clear guarantee either. Sorry to get negative here, but the argument of “the rotation is already filled out” is not really valid – especially when used as a reason for Rodon’s exit.
By not offering Carlos the $18.4 million, the Sox have created a hole they’ll now need to fill. This isn’t to say the southpaw was the final answer by any means. At the very least, they could’ve gotten a compensation pick should Rodon decline the QO or if he accepted, treat him like they would Craig Kimbrel and look for trade partners. Instead, those options are no longer on the table and the front office will be forced to spend a decent amount in free agency or trade assets away if they are serious about finding a quality replacement for the rotation
We’ll continue to monitor the situation and look into hypothetical replacements as the offseason progresses. Until then, be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th!
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