NEW YORK – Carlos Rodon’s postseason pitching experience is limited – two appearances, one start, zero advancement outside of the Division Series.
“I’ve always wanted more,” Rodon said Thursday. “We know, it’s the Yankee way.”
At his introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium, Rodon slipped on his new No. 55-striped jersey and eagerly immersed himself in the Bronx World Series or bust-up environment.
“This is expected. That’s what I signed up for, said Rodon, 30, after officially signing a free six-year, $162 million contract to join the Yankees rotation.
“But I think the biggest expectations are mine, not what (the media) or the fans say.”
The Yankees’ best rotation in over a decade
After securing Rodon, there is one pricey item on the Yankees’ winter wish list: an offensive left fielder.
And it’s a safe bet that free agent Michael Conforto’s name will pop up in conversation with agent Scott Boras, who negotiated Rodon’s six-year, $162 million deal.
Of course, there’s plenty of relief in the return of Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo to the defending champions of the Middle East, but the lineup — which stumbled in the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros — hasn’t changed.
Rodon’s signing relied on the Yankees’ starting strength, to the point that this is their best rotation since their last World Series.
The already giddy Aaron Boone envisioned Rodon in the Yankees’ season-opening series against his last team, the San Francisco Giants.
And that’s the rotation the head coach takes in spring training: Gerrit Cole, Rodon, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas.
That’s one employee to five better than anyone headed by Cole, Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia since 2009.
Pitching coach Matt Blake said, “Adding another dominant piece to it helps increase the rotation. When you get a combination that can pass the ball from one to the other…it creates a competitive spirit.”
As a free agent, Blake said briefly that he had recently agreed to a new three-year deal to return as pitching coach.
Carlos Rodon is on the radar
Boone wasn’t shy about telling Rodon that “a lot of people in our organization want this day to happen a lot sooner.”
At the trade deadline last summer, General Manager Brian Cashman engaged the Giants in trade talks and eventually received Rodon’s medical treatments.
But the Giants held on to the left-hander, who chose to cancel his $44 million, two-year contract to become a free agent.
“We got another chance this winter,” Cashman said, adding, “One extreme in the game (to) what we’re already feeling is really massive turnover.”
Rodon is coming off two consecutive All-Star seasons, two years after he was briefly interrupted by the Chicago White Sox, who eventually re-signed him to a $3 million contract prior to the 2021 season.
This was due to Rodon’s most recent medical history, being out of rehab from Tommy John surgery, and prior shoulder surgery.
Since then, Rodon has simplified his delivery process and created even more life on the elite Fastball-slider formula.
He’ll throw an occasional curveball and slider, too, but Rodon’s style is to “not try to complicate things” from his main two-pitch arsenal.
“If it goes out, if it swings and misses, why change something?”
Yankees pitching updates
To make room for Rodon’s roster addition, Cashman said some tough decisions had to be made, including letting go of lefty reliever Lucas Lutig.
That leaves one of the current lefties — Wandy Peralta — in command of the Yanks, but Blake has identified veteran small fielder Matt Krook, a former first-rounder, as someone who could influence the Yankees in 2023.
Meanwhile, Blake said Toms River right-hander Ron Marinaccio is “going in a good direction” after missing the season with a stress fracture in his right leg.
Right fielder Michael King (elbow fracture) will be slowly running into spring training with hopes that he will be available by Opening Day or shortly thereafter.
Montas, who was plagued by shoulder problems last summer, is on a normal winter schedule, and Curtis will be beefed up a little earlier than usual due to his participation in the World Baseball Classic.
Despite the Yankees’ full rotation, Domingo German and Clark Schmidt are expected to be stretched out as starters at camp. Pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.