Another veteran starting pitcher never hurts, and in this Texas Rangers Free Agent Debate, we pit two All-Star southpaws against each other.
In our previous installment of Free Agent Debate, we looked at two slugging right-handed outfielders. In this installment, we look at another glaring need for the Rangers: starting pitching.
With new information out that both the MLBPA and MLB won’t begin discussing major CBA issues until January, Texas Rangers fans can begin making their late-Christmas present list.
Of course, with plenty of youngsters on the way, the team needs a veteran presence in the rotation.
In 2022, the Rangers are looking at an improved, but very right-handed heavy starting rotation. Given the addition of Jon Gray, the Rangers rotation fills out with Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, Spencer Howard and one of Kolby Allard, A.J. Alexy or Kohei Arihara.
To me, Allard is better suited in a long relief role or as Triple-A depth, but has shown flashes of that top prospect pedigree in the rotation.
Assuming Taylor Hearn is a rotation lock early in the season based off of last season’s emergence, the Texas Rangers still need one more lefty to break up those righties.
Entering the discussion are All-Star lefties Carlos Rodon and Dallas-native Clayton Kershaw.
Both have had their injury troubles, but when healthy, are arguably in the top 5-10 best lefties in the major leagues. So, let’s debate!
Texas Rangers Free Agent Debate: Carlos Rodon
Rodon is coming off the best season of his career in 2021, making his first All-Star appearance and finishing 5th in the Cy Young discussion. Part of that success, he stayed on the field. He finally had a relatively healthy season.
In his career, Carlos Rodon has never eclipsed 30 starts or 170 innings, but has sat at or above league average in strikeout percentage and ground ball percentage.
According to Baseball Reference, the league average for SO% is 22%, Rodon has a career 24.9% strikeout rate. Almost a full three points higher. The major league average for GB% sits at 43.6%, and Rodon has a career 42.1% ground ball rate.
Digging a little deeper into his 2021 season, Rodon sported a 2.37 ERA over 24 games started. He had an ERA+ of 183, which is 83 points higher than the major league average, while also striking out 185 and walking 36.
He also ranked in the 90th percentile or higher in xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, K% and Whiff% in 2021, according to Baseball Savant.
It seems like the former 3rd overall pick figured some things out in 2021, and consistently touched the mid-to-upper 90’s with his fastball and paired it with a devastating slide piece.
Rodon just turned 29-years old on December 10th, so any team acquiring his services will get him in his prime years. The only question is can he repeat his success over a 5-6 year deal?
Let’s put him in Arlington and see how those numbers would fare.
Rodon gave up 13 homeruns last season, and all of them would have left the spacious Globe Life Field.
Not great, but manageable. With an improved Texas Rangers defense, his ground ball rates and double plays should go up, as well.
The real question is, what would it cost to bring Carlos Rodon to Arlington? Well, I suggested a 5-6 year pact, but MLB Trade Rumors says otherwise.
They have Rodon being a great fit in the Angels rotation, as well as potentially signing with Houston or Boston on a one year, $25 million dollar deal.
Would you rather take a chance on a high AAV with Rodon or spread that wealth out over a multi-year deal? Depends on how you look at it.
If he has no draft pick compensation attached, a one-year “bet on himself” type deal could be his best option.
*cough cough Marcus Semien*
But, at the same time, does he want to risk losing out on a big payday after only receiving $3 million last year from White Sox? With a scattered injury history and inconsistent numbers, I would like to believe he’d look for long term security.
For the Texas Rangers, are they willing to take that risk with him and hopefully he repeats himself? Maybe, but they’d also be taking that same risk with the other lefty in the ring…