‘You get it,’ Carlos Rodon says of White Sox letting him walk

Giants lefty Rodon looks good in his spring debut — against his former team.

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Carlos Rondon of the Giants face his former team, the White Sox, during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch on Thursday in Glendale, Arizona.

Carlos Rondon of the Giants face his former team, the White Sox, during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch on Thursday in Glendale, Arizona.

Norm Hall/Getty Images

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Oh, what the White Sox’ rotation would look like if Carlos Rodon were still around.

The Sox weren’t willing to take a chance, at Rodon’s price, because of his health history.

When Rodon was good, he was Cy Young-, no-hit-caliber good. When he was hurt, he was, well, unavailable.

And so the Sox declined to give the free-agent left-hander who battled back from elbow and shoulder surgeries a qualifying offer, and off he and agent Scott Boras went hunting for a big contract. They found one in San Francisco, with the Giants giving Rodon $44 million over two years.

“You get it,” Rodon, 29, said of the Sox’ decision to let him walk, talking after facing — as happenstance would have it — the Sox in his first Cactus League start Thursday. “As a kid, you don’t understand. You just want to play baseball. And then you start understanding the business when you get into professional baseball. There’s only so much a team can do. It’s not like they didn’t want me on their team; the Sox wanted me. And I gladly would have come back, but sometimes you have to explore other options.”

One option was considerably more lucrative than what the Sox provided to their 2014 No. 3 overall draft pick, who averaged 95 innings in his seven seasons with the Sox, 139 in his four best seasons.

And so the Sox will carry on with Michael Kopech filling Rodon’s spot. Kopech is equipped to probably give no more than 140 innings as they monitor his workload. That’s just about what Rodon (132 innings) gave them.

“You guys are in very good hands,” Rodon said. “Kopech is going to be very, very good for a very long time.”

There’s also Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel. And Reynaldo Lopez and Vince Velasquez.

Lefty Sean Manaea of the Athletics seemed to be there for the taking in the right deal, but the Sox appear unwilling to give the A’s the controllable young talent and prospects they want for one year at $9.75 million before he hits free agency.

Rodon was in good spirits after facing the Sox, looking odd in Giants black and orange and talking with more Chicago media than San Francisco media.

He allowed a home run to Eloy Jimenez and a single to Tim Anderson but nothing else in 2⅓ innings that saw him touch 98 mph on the scoreboard gun at Camelback Ranch. Rodon used four-seam fastballs to strike out Luis Robert and Jose Abreu in the first inning, and he also struck out Leury Garcia and Anderson.

“It was cool,” Rodon said. “Some laughs, a little junk talk, but it was fun.”

San Francisco seems a bit out of place for Rodon, an Indiana guy who loves to hunt. But he and his family will find a way to adapt for that kind of cash.

“It’s definitely life-changing,” he said. “Like you said, generational wealth. Try to do well with all that money. The lord has blessed me and my family with that money, and there are a lot of good things we can do with what the Giants have given us.”

Rodon still looked like he was adapting to his new surroundings, his new team. Facing the Sox in his first spring appearance must have made it all so real.

“It’s hard to leave an organization that you played your whole career for, but it’s part of the game, part of the business, and you move on,” he said. “I’m excited to be a Giant. This is a very, very good organization.”

Manager Tony La Russa said the Sox appreciated what he gave in his last season on the South Side. In baseball, you often tip your cap and move on.

“I’m really happy he’s not in our league; that means I can pull for him,” La Russa said.

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