CARLSBAD, Calif. — The White Sox didn’t make an $18.4 million qualifying offer to All-Star left-hander Carlos Rodon.
To which Rodon’s agent, Scott Boras, on Wednesday said, “Thank you.”
Speaking to reporters about an array of topics ranging from the expiring collective-bargaining agreement to clients, Boras proclaimed Rodon healthy, citing the 99 mph velocity he touched in the Sox’ last game of the postseason.
On Tuesday, general manager Rick Hahn explained why the Sox declined the qualifying offer, a move that made Rodon a free agent. The Sox’ front office deemed that $18.4 million price tag for one year too steep despite Rodon’s dominant showing in the first half while he was physically strong.
MLB’s most influential agent, Boras is seeking a multiyear deal for Rodon, who pitched on an inexpensive one-year, $3 million contract in 2021 after two injury-plagued and surgery-affected seasons. Boras said the Sox remain in the mix to sign him.
A two-year deal at a lower annual number than $18.4 million might be more to the Sox’ liking, but that’s only possible if Rodon isn’t offered more elsewhere. Rodon’s wife, on social media, referred to the Sox in the past tense.
“Essentially, it’s a contract offer of $18.4 million for one [season],” Hahn said. “And we made the assessment based on everything we know, which includes our needs and our other targets, that it wasn’t an offer we were comfortable making at this time.”
Rodon pitched a no-hitter and was Cy Young material when healthy in the first half, and he emptied his tank with 132 2/3 innings and 24 starts after making only 13 starts combined in the previous two seasons.
“When you think about sculpting a pitching staff, you’re thinking, ‘Man, the target without a doubt is Rodon,’ ’’ Boras said.
Boras said Rodon’s shoulder is healthy, and he complimented Hahn and the Sox’ medical staff for how they handled his client through a season that saw him encounter shoulder fatigue in the second half. He made eight starts after July 18, topping out at five innings. Despite almost reaching 100 mph against the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, the break on Rodon’s premier slider wasn’t quite there, and he lasted 2 2/3 innings. He threw 56 pitches and allowed two runs and three hits.
That said, “Everyone back in Chicago has a very positive feeling about Carlos’ season, his performance,” Boras said.
“There were a few veterans [that the 60-game season in 2020] didn’t affect as much, but most pitchers, the minute they jumped from 70 innings, all of a sudden you saw erratic performances. And Carlos, he went from zero to 120 and was extraordinary. And after that, he was just fatigued.”
Without Rodon, who had a 2.37 ERA, the Sox’ rotation shapes up as Lance Lynn (2.69 ERA, top-three Cy Young vote-getter), Lucas Giolito (3.53), Dylan Cease (3.91, team-high 226 strikeouts), Dallas Keuchel (5.28) and Michael Kopech (3.50). Keuchel, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015, is coming off his worst season and didn’t make the playoff roster. Giolito had the strongest second half of any Sox starter and put up numbers worthy of Cy Young consideration. Reynaldo Lopez (3.53 ERA in 57 innings) also made a modest contribution to a group that led AL starters in wins above replacement.
Rodon’s 5.0 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, was second on the Sox’ roster behind Lynn.
Boras talked for more than an hour to reporters at the GM meetings, saying baseball was the victim of a “competitive cancer” caused by teams trading veterans to get draft picks. He said the Braves’ World Series title resulted from other teams tanking.
As the industry braces for a lockout, Boras supports the players union’s demands for change in the collective-bargaining agreement that expires Dec. 1.
“This is the Easter Bunny delivering rotten eggs,” he said.