Free agent Carlos Rodon is worth the heavy risk for the Chicago Cubs

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /

So far, Jed Hoyer’s efforts toward remaking a starting rotation that, by almost every measure, ranked at or near the bottom of the league last year have consisted of picking up 35-year-old Wade Miley off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. Suffice to say, that move alone won’t be enough to get the Chicago Cubs back on the right track in 2022.

There’s a lot of offseason left – and with a lockout looking, it’ll be one unlike anything other in recent memory. If I were a betting man, I’d say Chicago making a flurry of moves to add arms still looking for deals right before spring training seems likely. They’ll look to capitalize on guys without a team, looking to hopefully score a few bargains along the way.

But it shouldn’t just be scraping the bottom of the barrel this winter. There’s really no reason for that to be the case given the team’s tremendous financial flexibility – something they’ve sorely lacked in recent years. If the Cubs don’t want to get in with the big names, though, it means you’re going to have to take some risks. One worth making is signing former White Sox southpaw Carlos Rodon.

The left-hander once again battled injuries this season, but prior to that, he looked like he’d finally put it all together. Rodon finished fifth in American League Cy Young voting, going 13-5 with 12.6 K/9, a 2.37 ERA and a 5.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 132 2/3 innings of work. Now, coming off what’s easily the best year of his career, the soon-to-be 29-year-old hits free agency in search of a new home.

Rodon went from barely making a dozen starts over a two-year span to making 24 in 2021 and the fatigue definitely proved costly down the stretch. Without his presence in the postseason, the White Sox quickly found themselves overmatched by the eventual AL pennant-winning Houston Astros in the ALDS.

The injuries will certainly give teams pause this winter as they evaluate potential pursuits of Rodon, but if you ask his agent, Scott Boras, this is the guy you want to build a staff around.

"“When you think about sculpting a pitching staff, you’re thinking, ‘Man, the target without a doubt is Rodon,’ ’’ Boras last week."

Chicago Cubs have little to lose in taking a run at Carlos Rodon

Whether Boras likes to acknowledge the fact or not, the simple truth is this: signing Rodon to a multi-year deal is a gamble – a big one. But if he stays healthy, you might just tally the biggest steal of the offseason. Given the Cubs’ standing, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making a serious run at this guy.

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Rodon returned to the Sox last winter on a one-year, $3 million deal. There’s no way he signs for anywhere near that amount this time around, but it’ll be a far cry from the numbers we’ve heard tossed around when talking about Max Scherzer and other top-tier arms, too. The Cubs need swing-and-miss arms that can add a badly-needed power element to the mix. Carlos Rodon can be that guy.