The Giants used Wednesday's MLB non-tender deadline to bring back a handful of key players. They also let go of five players, making them free agents. Tyler Anderson was among those who were non-tendered, leaving a big hole to fill on the Giants' roster.
It was no surprise that the Giants non-tendered Anderson, but the only left-handers now on San Francisco's 40-man roster with starting experience are Andrew Suarez and Conner Menez. Reliever Caleb Baragar also started one game last year. However, it's clear the Giants have a need for a southpaw with Anderson gone and Drew Smyly signing with the Atlanta Braves.
Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris and Co. likely will look at some established veteran lefties like James Paxton, and understandably so. This rotation needs arms who can log innings in a 162-game season. Aside from Kevin Gausman and Johnny Cueto, there still are a lot of questions as to who will take the hill next for Gabe Kapler's squad. At the same time, there now is a pitcher on the open market who feels well worth the risk for the Giants.
There's a reason Carlos Rodón was the No. 3 overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in the 2014 MLB Draft. There's a reason he had a 2.24 ERA with 436 strikeouts over 50 appearances in college for North Carolina State. And there's a reason why he needed only 11 appearances (nine starts) in the minor leagues before making his major league debut in 2015.
Rodón is capable of performances like this.
When healthy, his slider looks like this.
There's the problem: "When healthy." Rodón made 51 starts his first two years in the big leagues and had a 3.90 ERA through his age-23 season. He then made just 12 starts the next season in 2017, 20 in 2018, only seven in 2019 and made four appearances -- two starts -- last season when he had an 8.22 ERA over 7 2/3 innings.
Since making his debut in 2015 at only 22 years old, Rodón, now 27, has appeared in 97 games and has a 4.14 career ERA. He has made 92 starts and was the White Sox's Opening Day starter in 2019. But the lefty was non-tendered Wednesday and now is searching for a new home after looking like a sure thing in the 2014 draft.
The Giants took a gamble on Gausman, the No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft, and it turned out to be a steal. He now is San Francisco's ace and every indication has shown us the Giants want him pitching at Oracle Park well past 2021. Gausman is two years older than Rodón and was Zaidi's latest reclamation project that wound up being a win.
If the Giants are going to target a veteran like Paxton or Jon Lester, who they reportedly have shown interest in this offseason, then they also should roll the dice on Rodón. This front office has been obsessed with NC State prospects in recent years. Why not go sign perhaps the best pitcher in the school's history?
Rodón is a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Giants. In the scenario that all goes right, this once again could make Zaidi look like a genius. Roll the dice, go take a risk on Rodón.