Indeed, before the decision was announced, it seemed a sensible move to extend the offer of a one-year deal worth $18.4 million to Rodón, who starred with an exceptional 2021 campaign that should land him in the upper reaches of the American League Cy Young vote. The White Sox boasted the best rotation in the AL during the regular season thanks in part to Rodón's dominance. Why not try to keep him around for another year, one in which the White Sox will once more hold World Series aspirations?
Well, the White Sox might still try to keep Rodón in their employ. But they didn't want to do it under the terms of the qualifying offer, a contract with parameters outside of their control.
"Essentially, it's a contract offer of $18.4 million for one (year)," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday at the GM meetings in Southern California. "And we made the assessment based on everything we know, which includes our needs and our other targets, that that wasn't an offer we were comfortable making at this time."
Of course, "everything we know" is a lot.
Rodón hits the open market without completely jettisoning questions about his health. Though he put his history of significant arm injuries behind him in 2021, he was sore down the stretch to the point that he was going more than a week between starts and his playoff status was a mystery.
The White Sox, too, know that their starting rotation is currently full. Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, Dallas Keuchel and Michael Kopech are the five in place for 2022, meaning that any addition to that group, including a Rodón reunion, would necessitate removing one member of that quintet.
There's the market, and it's anyone's guess as to how other teams will evaluate Rodón, whether a contract offer close to the qualifying offer will land on Scott Boras' desk.
And most importantly, perhaps, there's the White Sox' offseason work in total, which might or might not end up including starting pitching but certainly includes plenty else. Plugging the hole at second base, adding to a depleted bullpen, upgrading in right field, bringing in a new backup catcher and augmenting the starting staff in any way will come with a price tag.
While Hahn touted his front office's financial flexibility to make the moves it needs to this winter Friday, giving $18.4 million to Rodón might have had the ability to derail some of the rest of that planning.
So don't take a reunion with Rodón off the table by any means. Just know it won't come with that league-mandated cost.
"We have not ruled out him returning," Hahn said. "He knows that. Scott knows that. We'll see how his market unfolds and what the options are for us over the coming months.
"He was outstanding for us. ... That specific contract was not offered to him. Doesn't mean we're not interested in potentially finding a way to bring him back."