Yankees, Twins, Cardinals, Giants In on Carlos Rodon

10:42pm: The Yankees have indeed put forth an offer to Rodon, Heyman writes. There’s apparently still a fair bit of work to do in order to get a deal done, as Heyman indicates there’s a notable gap between New York’s proposal and Rodon’s asking price.

2:55pm: Carlos Rodon is the clear top pitcher remaining on the open market, and despite a lofty asking price reportedly in the $200MM neighborhood, multiple clubs remain in pursuit of the left-hander. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported yesterday that the Yankees are prepping a formal offer for Rodon, and Brendan Kuty of NJ.com now tweets that the Yankees appear to be Rodon’s preferred landing spot. However, Kuty adds that both the Twins and the Cardinals both remain “seriously in play” for the southpaw as of this afternoon. Meanwhile, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that even after agreeing to identical two-year, $25MM deals with both Ross Stripling and Sean Manaea this week, the Giants are still involved in Rodon’s market.

The Twins’ interest in Rodon is perhaps contingent on the looming decision of Carlos Correa who, like Rodon, is represented by the Boras Corporation. Dan Hayes of The Athletic suggests that Correa remains the Twins’ top priority, though he adds that the team nonetheless made a pitch to Rodon earlier in the month (Twitter thread). Given that the Giants are viewed as Minnesota’s primary competition for Correa, it’s fair to wonder whether both clubs might be prioritizing Correa with the intent of pivoting to Rodon should they be spurned by Correa. That both players have the same agent makes concurrent negotiations a smoother process.

After agreeing to a three-year deal with free-agent catcher Christian Vazquez yesterday, Minnesota projects to about $107MM in total commitments for the upcoming season. That’s well shy of the more than $140MM they spent on last year’s Opening Day roster, but not so far south of the mark that it becomes easy to envision a scenario in which both Correa and Rodon sign on to call Target Field home. The Twins have drawn interest in right fielder Max Kepler this winter, but even in the event of a Kepler deal coming together, a Correa/Rodon combo would push Minnesota well past $150MM in total payroll for the first time in franchise history and would likely lock them into $75-80MM worth of annual commitments to the trio of Correa, Rodon and Byron Buxton.

The Giants, meanwhile, are roughly $43MM from their franchise-record Opening Day payroll even after their deals with Stripling and Manaea. Similarly, though, it’s difficult to see both players landing in San Francisco. The Giants are already a bit north of $180MM in terms of luxury obligations, and that pairing would likely push them into tax territory for the first time. That said, the Giants have topped $200MM in payroll before, and the only player currently signed beyond the 2024 season is Mitch Haniger, who’s signed through 2025. The Giants have been averse to long-term contracts under president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, though they made hefty bids for both Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper under his watch.

As for the Cardinals, they were linked to Rodon this past weekend, and Kuty paints them as a fairly prominent player in the bidding. The Cards would make for something of a surprise bidder, having already spent $87.5MM to bring Willson Contreras to St. Louis on a five-year contract. Signing Rodon would likely mean doling out the largest commitment in franchise history and pushing payroll to height never before seen in St. Louis. The Cardinals’ current record for Opening Day payroll is a bit more north of $163MM, in 2021, but they’re already at that rough level right now Rodon could well take them north of $190MM.

Circling back to the Yankees, they at one point reportedly hoped to limit any Rodon deals to four or five years in length, though that doesn’t seem likely to get them in the ballpark. With Judge and Cole both locked into a combined $76MM in annual commitments through the 2028 season (2029 in Judge’s case), adding Rodon to the mix would require budgeting more than $100MM annually for a trio of players for at least the next six years. Giancarlo Stanton is under contract through 2027, as well, further complicating the long-term scenario for Rodon.

At present, Roster Resource projects a $266MM luxury-tax ledger for the Yankees. They’re already set to pay the tax for a second straight season, so they’ll owe $6MM on the first $20MM by which they cross the $233MM threshold and $8.5MM on the next $20MM. Once they reach $273MM in luxury obligations, they’ll be taxed at a rate of 75%, and they’d be taxed at 90% on any dollars beyond the $293MM mark.

Speculatively penciling in an even $30MM AAV (which could, of course, be off by a few million dollars one way or another), the Yankees would jump from their currently projected $11.74MM of penalties all the way up to about $32.65MM in penalties. In other words, they’d pay an approximate $21MM in taxes on top of Rodon’s actual salary for the 2023 season. Passing the luxury threshold by more than $40MM would also drop the Yankees’ top pick in the 2023 draft by 10 places, and any Rodon deal would make it quite difficult to drop under the tax line (and avoid even steeper tax rates as a third-time offender) in 2024.

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