Red Sox Rumors: With E-Rod gone, Carlos Rodon should be top target

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

While the hot stove is yet to really to get cooking, MLB free agency is well underway now. For the Boston Red Sox, that certainly has been true so far.

The Sox have already had to make some big decisions, such as extending a qualifying offer to Eduardo Rodriguez, declining their options on Garrett Richards and Martin Perez, and picking up Christian Vazquez’s option.

Rodriguez was one of the more prominent free agents Boston had this offseason, and based off how inconsistent he was in 2021, it seemed like there was actually a chance he accepted the one year, $18.4 million offer. Instead, Rodriguez declined the option on Sunday afternoon, seemingly paving the way for him to exit Boston.

That proved to be the case, as Rodriguez signed a five year, $77 million deal with the Detroit Tigers on Monday afternoon. Rodriguez struggled a lot last season, and it’s not really a surprise that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, but Boston now has a hole in their rotation that needs to be filled.

Ideally, you would like to fill that hole with a lefty to balance things out. As of right now, Chris Sale is really the only left handed starter on Boston’s roster, which could be an issue if it’s not addressed in time for the upcoming season. With Rodriguez out of the picture, the Boston Red Sox should hone their sights on another left handed free agent starter who would be the perfect replacement; Carlos Rodon.

Boston Red Sox should pursue Carlos Rodon now that Eduardo Rodriguez is gone

I previously tabbed Rodon as a potential free agent target for the Red Sox earlier this offseason, but that really hung on whether or not Rodriguez would accept his qualifying offer. Now that he hasn’t, and officially is heading elsewhere, Boston’s front office would be wise to set their sights on Rodon.

Rodon was a highly touted prospect for the Chicago White Sox that could never seem to figure things out. He was either struggling to stay healthy, and when he was on the mound, he struggled to consistently get guys out. But everything changed for Rodon in 2021.

The 2021 season was a breakout campaign for Rodon, and he has set himself up for quite a nice payday as a result. Rodon finished with a 13-5 record while posting a 2.37 ERA and 185 strikeouts. He sprinkled in a no-hitter along the way, and earned his first ever All Star berth as a result.

Rodon relies heavily on his deadly fastball/slider combo, while also mixing in a changeup or curveball from time to time to keep hitters off balance. Opponents were only able to hit .186 off Rodon last season, and when he had his stuff, he was unhittable. Just ask the Cleveland Indians.

When Rodon is on, he’s one of the best pitchers in the league. The problem is he hasn’t been on for long stretches of his career. He’s dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, and that has deterred his growth significantly. Rodon wore down as the second half of the season went on, and he finished with 132.2 innings as a result.

Rodon’s improvements last season should ease Boston’s concerns. Rodon altered his delivery to help reduce to possibility of injury, and also changed his pitch repertoire to preserve his arm, opting to use his slider more often than his curveball. Sure, Rodon struggled to pitch a full slate of games this season, but that was because he pitched just 42.1 innings over the previous two seasons.

Compared to Rodriguez, Rodon would offer a marked improvement over the departing left hander. Rodriguez had a really solid 2019 season, but otherwise he has struggles similar to that of Rodon. When comparing the two, they probably have a similar floor, but Rodon easily has a higher ceiling.

Rodon would slot in perfectly behind Sale and Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation. Unless other additions were made, Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck would probably fill in the final two spots of the rotation. If you ask me, that looks like one of the better rotations in the league.

Next. Sox Rumors: 3 infield free agent targets. dark

Rodon would cost the Sox a handsome sum of cash, probably over $20 million per year, but it’s certainly worth it. Rodon will be 29 next season, so Boston would be paying for the prime years of his career. The lineup could probably use another bat or two, but that may not require the front office to blow an inordinate amount of cash. But adding a starter is an absolute necessity now.

In terms of a replacement for Rodriguez, it doesn’t get much better than Rodon. He may cost more than the front office would ideally like to dish out for him, especially considering his injury history, but they’ve taken risks on guys with injury concerns before and seen it pay off handsomely (Nathan Eovaldi anyone?). With Rodriguez heading out, Rodon is the perfect replacement, and it’s up to the front office to do what it takes to make him a member of the Boston Red Sox.