Carlos Rodon has had a rough career since getting drafted third overall in 2014. He had the same path to the majors that Chris Sale had, quickly advancing through the minor league system, then initially coming out of the bullpen, before eventually starting full-time. He had mixed success, having an ERA in the high-three to low-four range, but has shown signs of absolute dominance in starts and string of starts. Then, the injuries came.
Rodon spent much of last year on the DL before coming back and starting, which lead to another DL stint and surgery on his shoulder, holding him out until the middle of this season. Since returning, Rodon has a 3.38 ERA, an improvement, but his FIP is near a career high at 4.62, so his low ERA might just be him getting lucky.
Peter Gammons and other reporters have come out and said the White Sox are getting calls on Rodon. The team has been in rebuild mode for a year and a half and are not afraid to trade talented players, like they did with Jose Quintana and Sale. However, this time, the right move is to not take these calls. Sure, Rodon is still a young pitcher with lots of control, so he does have value, one that many teams have been known to pony up for in the past and he could probably bring in a mini-haul.
Unfortunately though, Rodon has not lived up to the hype of being the third overall pick. He can still show that he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but to trade him now seems rather silly, considering how unproven he is. Is there risk in holding onto him? Absolutely. He could continue to be ravaged by injuries. He could never reach his potential. There might be a temptation to sell while he’s healthy and semi-successful, but his value is nowhere near what it can be and the White Sox ought to take that risk.
Another reason that the Sox should hold onto Rodon, and a crazy reason at that, is that he’s got a couple important jobs on the staff. He is both the only lefty, and a veteran, at least compared to Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and other starters likely to crack the rotation. He has had the most experience out of any of the guys in the rotation right now, excluding James Shields, who will likely not be on the team next year, whether it be via a trade this season, or an option getting declined in the offseason.
Young staffs, like the White Sox’s staff is shaping out to be, need a veteran leader. Someone like the Cubs went and brought in Jon Lester. The White Sox have been known for their ability to develop pitchers, so they haven’t ever really had to spend big money on a proven starter, but that can change if they don’t have a veteran to lead the young rotation.
Can Rodon be that guy? Only time will tell. If he can stay healthy enough, and be consistent, he can be that big money crazy “stuff” absolute stud for the team for the next several years. If not, he can get shipped off for prospects to keep the farm system replenished. But the time to cash in on Rodon should wait, at the very least until the offseason. Have him prove he can stay healthy, and consistent. A team might be more willing to part with prospects if he can prove he can reach his ceiling.
If they want to hold onto him even further, maybe they chalk up one of Rick Hahn’s world-famous extensions and get Rodon to buy out his remaining arbitration years and maybe a few free agency years. Of course the likelihood of that happening is very, very slim, as he has extension hater Scott Boras as his agent. If he does not bite, no worry, Rodon can go out and prove himself to be worth more than the contract they offered him, pitch well, and become a very valuable trade chip.
With that being said, teams can never have enough pitching, and contenders always seem to be looking for pitching help at the deadline. The Yankees just traded for half a year of a proven starter in J.A. Happ, and gave up a decent haul to the Jays for him. The more control, the more the haul the White Sox can get in return.
Now, by no means is Carlos Rodon untouchable. If a team offers a couple of top 100 prospects, the White Sox would be silly not to take it. Unfortunately, no organization is going to offer that right now. Therefore, the White Sox must sit on this ticking time bomb, hoping Rodon can diffuse it and become an ace before it blows up in their face.
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