Before you tell me the idea I’ve posted in the headline to this article is crazy, at least hear me out.
There were 59 non-tenders made by MLB teams Wednesday — nearly six percent of all players on 40-man rosters — and one of them intrigues me for the possibility he could really help the Cubs rotation.
The White Sox non-tendered Carlos Rodon after six injury-plagued seasons on the South Side. Not once did Rodon make 30 starts in any of those six seasons; he peaked at 28 starts in 2016, but a 20-start season in 2018 produced 2.2 bWAR. In 2020, Rodon made just four appearances (two starts) during the 60-game regular season and one more in the White Sox’ wild-card series loss to the Athletics, and a couple of those outings were disastrous.
So why sign him? Because he’s a first-round talent (third overall in 2014) who’s had tremendous bad luck with injuries. It’s worth a flyer, I’d say, to see if he’s healthy because if he is, at just 28 he could be a real boost to a Cubs rotation that could use that.
Here’s how I’d do it. Sign him to a minor-league deal with a guarantee of $1 million if he makes the 26-man roster (or however many are going to be on a 2021 Opening Day roster, we still don’t know). Then give him an additional $2 million for every 10 starts he makes. Thus if he would get to 30 starts, he’d make $7 million in 2021, which would be pretty reasonable for a healthy lefthanded pitcher of Rodon’s talent. Rodon made $4.45 million in 2020, so $7 million would be a significant raise. MLB Trade Rumors projected him for $4.5 million in arbitration.
The ability is there, it’s just the failure to stay healthy that’s held Rodon back. With incentives like this, the Cubs’ financial commitment would be pretty low if he can’t stay healthy, and if he didn’t make it out of spring training, they’d owe him basically nothing.
One more thing about Rodon being picked third overall in 2014. The next pick in that draft, as you surely know, was Kyle Schwarber. It’s been said that if the Sox had passed on Rodon, the Cubs would have taken him. We’ll never know, of course, but the Cubs got six mostly-good years out of Schwarber, and now, if Rodon is healthy, they could get some production out of a guy they might have chosen in the draft.
Get it done, Jed.
The Cubs signing Carlos Rodon...
This poll is closed
... is a dumb idea. Don’t do it
... is a great idea with the incentives listed
... could work, but I have a different idea regarding incentives
... something else (leave in comments)