Pros and Cons: Should Mets add free agent Carlos Rodon when lockout ends?

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Carlos Rodon Treated Image
Carlos Rodon Treated Image

When MLB's lockout ends, the Mets are expected to still be spenders to show owner Steve Cohen & Co. are all in for the 2022 campaign.

In their search for more talent, pitching — specifically in the rotation —will be looked at by GM Billy Eppler. And they already know who is at the top of the pack: Carlos Rodon.

The lefty was impressive for the Chicago White Sox in 2021, posting a 2.37 ERA and 2.65 FIP over 132.2 innings. Here are the pros and cons for adding the veteran starter:

Pros

Highly Effective Fastball

Rodon's journey to where he is now featured Tommy John surgery after losing his high-velocity fastball. But in 2021 with the White Sox, he gained that heater back and it did him well.

He was topping 99 mph at times and averaging 95.4 mph on the gun, but his spin rate on the pitch made it even more challenging for hitters to handle.

So why does this one pitch in particular fall into the pros category? Well, Rodon's whiff rate on it was 25.3 percent last season -- higher than Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, who arguably have two of the best fastballs in the game for a starter.

Imagine having all three in the rotation?

Postseason Run

The Mets have World Series or bust in mind this year. To do that, pitching is usually the tone setter for every team that hoists the trophy in the end.

Having deGrom and Scherzer as the best 1-2 punch in the game helps tremendously. But due to injury concerns and inconsistency elsewhere in the rotation, it would bode well for the Mets to add another pitcher to help them throughout the season, and more importantly, give them an edge in the postseason.

Especially if Rodon posts the numbers he did last season, this would be a rotation no one would want to see in the playoffs.

Only Lefty

Does it matter that the Mets currently don't have a lefty in their rotation (unless David Peterson cracks through)? Not necessarily. But it's a nice change of pace to have Rodon sit in the middle of the rotation with a southpaw delivery.

An opposing team wouldn't have to worry too much about matchups in the lineup either if all righties are expected from the Mets — even if they are some of the best hurlers in the game.

Having that slight diversification is a plus, though Rodon's effectiveness is obviously more important.

Cons

Shoulder Injury

It's been well documented by now: Rodon has left shoulder fatigue. He had an IL stint because of it, and having only pitched 42.1 innings from 2019-20 didn't help matters when dealt a full workload again. Rodon also had shoulder surgery and dealt with inflammation in 2017 and 2018.

Do the Mets want another pitcher who could be injury prone during the season? Carlos Carrasco barely saw the mound as a Met, dealing with different injuries. Even deGrom is a question mark, as the Mets hope his partially torn UCL from last season doesn't become an issue again.

There's a question mark there for the 29-year-old, one the Mets will certainly have to consider.

Is The Cost Too Much?

According to Spotrac, Rodon's market value is $24 million per season. The Mets have already shelled out a solid chunk of change, especially for Scherzer, which blew past Gerrit Cole's record average annual value by a mile.

Being that many believe the Mets aren't done spending when the lockout ends, the answer could easily be no for owner Cohen. He's clearly going for it and might not be done making big splashes.

It's still a consideration when thinking about the Mets in the long term, especially if they also want to add another position player (I'm looking at you, Kris Bryant).

Verdict

If the Mets had to choose between whether to add pitching or another position player, the former should always be the answer. Shoring up the rotation is paramount for a team that wishes to make a World Series run, and the Mets have more question marks than sure things at the moment.

Rodon is the top name on the market in that respect and for good reason. With his fastball back, his entire pitching arsenal is an aggressive one that got the job done in 2021.

And after experiencing a bigger workload last year, maybe he realizes what he must do to endure a long season once again. The Mets may even use the option of limiting him down the road so he is fresh for the postseason.

Either way, injuries will always be a concern for pitchers and position players alike. The Mets would be taking a calculated risk with him knowing his injury past, but the same could be said with others on the roster as well.