Is there a healthy market for free-agent starter Carlos Rodon?
Availability has always been the issue for Carlos Rodon.
When healthy during his seven-year stay with the White Sox, the left-handed starting pitcher often showed why he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft.
With an overpowering fastball and biting slider, Rodon was 42-38 with a 3.79 ERA and 710 strikeouts in 669⅓ innings.
The 29-year-old North Carolina State product really broke out last season, going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts for the Sox. Rodon also pitched a no-hitter against the Indians in April and was named to his first All-Star team.
Health issues reappeared in the second half the season.
While dealing with shoulder soreness and fatigue, Rodon was limited to 9 starts and 43 innings.
The numbers (6-2, 2.51 ERA) were still good, but Rodon was on the injured list for most of August, his four starts in September were made on extended rest and he was a last-minute choice to start Game 4 of the American League division series against the Astros.
Taking the mound against Houston at Guaranteed Rate Field with the White Sox facing elimination, Rodon lasted just 2⅔ innings and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in a 10-1 loss.
Non-tendered by the Sox following the 2020 season, Rodon became a free agent and could have opted for a fresh start with another team.
He wound up rejoining the White Sox on a one-year, $3 million contract.
"The front office believing in me to sign me back, they knew I had something to prove," Rodon said. "They knew I was hungry."
A free agent again this year, you can never say never on Rodon coming back to the Sox on a new deal.
But given his ongoing physical problems, coupled with the fact the White Sox have starters Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel returning and Michael Kopech moving from the bullpen to the rotation in 2022, Rodon is almost certain to be with another team next season.
"The slim chance that he might be back with us, I don't know," Keuchel said. "But I think there's an even greater chance that he's not because there's going to be some suitors that probably want his big lefty frame. I wish him the best. He's a good dude. He cares for his craft and that's what makes me most excited."
Interested suitors are going to take a long look at Rodon's injury history before extending offers.
Rodon had shoulder surgery in 2017 and Tommy John surgery in 2019.
But after being limited to 42⅓ total innings in 2019-20, Rodon was able to pitch 132⅔ last season.
The Cubs had an interest in Rodon after he was non-tendered, and they figured to have an interest again this offseason. But after signing Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million contract right before baseball shut down in a labor dispute, the Cubs don't figure to spend big on another starter.
The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Mariners and Dodgers are among the teams rumored to be interested in signing Rodon.
"Carlos, as a free agent, there's only so much I'm allowed to say but I can certainly praise how fantastic he was for us over the bulk of the season and that it would be great to figure out a way to bring him back in some capacity," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "Obviously, this isn't our first foray into free agency with Carlos. We had a similar situation last offseason when we had an interest in bringing him back and were able to work it out. We'll see how the market unfolds.
"He's coming from a much better position, which we all benefited from over the course of the '21 season. And on a personal level, it was great to see a kid who had been through a lot and had a lot of adversity fulfill the promise our scouts and player development all saw from him back when we drafted him out of N.C. State. From that standpoint, it's a bittersweet day. He met that potential and now obviously he has the benefit of exploring his free-agent options."