With Aaron Judge’s contract situation settled last week, the Yankees were finally able to move on to other business. They did just that on Thursday, coming to terms on a six-year, $162 million deal with the left-hander Carlos Rodón, arguably the best starting pitcher remaining on the free-agent market.
The deal, which was first reported by Jon Heyman of The New York Post, was confirmed by a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be finalized. It represents the 11th-highest total contract committed to a pitcher in major league history, according to Spotrac, with an average annual value of $27 million. The contract has a full no-trade clause.
Rodón, who turned 30 on Saturday, is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he had an ERA under 3.00. Drafted and developed by the Chicago White Sox after a standout career at North Carolina State, he blossomed into a star with Chicago in 2021. Then he signed a two-year, $44 million deal with the San Francisco Giants just before the 2022 season began — a deal that came together quickly after the lockout ended. He acclimated to the National League with ease, going 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts. He led major league starters with an average of 12 strikeouts per nine innings and was an All-Star for a second straight year.
The deal included an opt-out clause after one season that Rodón exercised.
In New York, Rodón should slot in near the top of the Yankees’ rotation, serving as a significant upgrade over the right-hander Jameson Taillon, who left the Yankees and signed a four-year, $68 million contract with the Chicago Cubs last week .
Currently, the Yankees’ starting rotation projects to be a strength for the team, with Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Rodón all having All-Star potential. The right-hander Frankie Montas, who was acquired in a deadline trade with the Oakland Athletics, could be a terrific option as a fifth starter if he can recover from the injuries and inconsistency that plagued him last year.
While Rodón does not have the overall track record of Cole, he is nearly as dominant as the Yankees’ ace. He has 422 strikeouts and only 88 walks over the last two seasons and came within one hit-batsmen of a perfect game in 2021, settling for a no-hitter against Cleveland instead.
Given his first shot at real free agency after the truncated process of last off-season, Rodón had interest from numerous teams and was considered by many to be the third-best pitcher on the market. His standing rose to the top position when Jacob deGrom signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Texas Rangers and Justin Verlander signed a two-year, $86.66 million contract with the Mets.
While all three pitchers have dealt with serious arm injuries over the last few seasons, Rodón is nearly 10 years younger than Verlander, who will turn 40 in February, and is four years younger than deGrom.
The Yankees still have other holes to fill, but with Judge re-signed and a top starting pitcher acquired, the team has accomplished two of its biggest goals of the off-season. The total cost: $522 million.
Scott Miller contributed reporting.
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