The Yankees got their crown jewel of the offseason by re-signing Aaron Judge to a record nine-year, $360 million deal. It was a necessary thing for New York to get done. But now that it’s in the rearview mirror, Brian Cashman and Co. have more work to do.
Sure, this is a club that won 99 games, took home an American League East title, and reached the ALCS in 2022. They also got swept out of the postseason by the Houston Astros. Despite losing Justin Verlander to the Mets, Houston’s roster is still very deep and appears to be head and shoulders above the Yankees.
The Bombers will probably kick the tires on a reunion with Andrew Benintendi. When it comes to major acquisitions, though, the Yankees have been focused on left-handed starting pitcher Carlos Rodon. Rumors of their interest popped up before there was a resolution with Judge, and it seemingly intensified once they agreed to terms with the 2022 AL MVP.
Rodon fits what the Yankees are looking for in a rotation upgrade. Jon Heyman of the New York Post notes the organization would like another southpaw on the starting staff. They also think Rodon’s personality fits in the Bronx. The interest appears mutual because the Bombers think Rodon desires a big market like New York City, or at the very least, to play on the east coast.
That’s good news for the Yankees, but they’re not the only team seriously pursuing the last elite (and proven) starting pitcher on the open market. Five other teams have been connected to Rodon. Let’s run down who they are and how much of a threat they could be to New York.
Boston Red Sox. They just signed Masataka Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million deal. Many fans in Beantown are still reeling from the Sox letting Xander Bogaerts walk to San Diego, though. Chaim Bloom could momentarily quiet his critics by getting a deal done for Rodon to greatly improve the rotation.
Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers haven’t made a lot of noise in free agency so far. Part of that might be because they’re waiting for Shohei Ohtani to become available next offseason. It’s not like they haven’t been in conversations to throw some serious money around, though. L.A. was connected to Jacob deGrom, and they were also the other finalist to sign Justin Verlander. We know the Dodgers have the money. It’ll just be a matter of how seriously they want to pursue the southpaw.
San Francisco Giants. If it’s a big name, the Giants are involved. However, they swung and missed on Judge (and probably Brandon Nimmo, too). Reports say they could be in the driver’s seat for shortstop Carlos Correa because San Francisco wants a big name and meaningful upgrade for its lineup. Rodon did just spend 2022 by the Bay, so there’s a connection to think about there.
Minnesota Twins. After spending this past season with Minnesota, the Twins are focused on trying to bring Correa back on a long-term deal. Their rotation could certainly use some help, but the organization may view Correa as more important right now. Especially with the Giants suddenly emerging as a favorite. Plus, if Minnesota is feeling at all confident of landing Correa — which might mean a guarantee of $300-plus million — they probably don’t want to also give Rodon $25-30 million per year for at least five seasons.
Baltimore Orioles. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Kyle Gibson has already been added to the rotation, but the Orioles need a leader on the pitching staff. They’re also finally on the upswing after an 83-79 record in 2022. There’s plenty of payroll flexibility to afford Rodon, with less than $20 million currently on the books for next season.
After running down this group of potential suitors, it certainly feels like the Yankees have the upper hand. Let’s see if Cashman can close the deal, and how long it takes him to do it.