The Detroit Tigers should consider signing free agent Carlos Rondon.
The organization should be seeking one more proven starting pitcher to plug into the middle of their rotation before the beginning of the regular season. Rondon, when healthy, is more than a middle of the rotation arm but does come with injury concerns. The veteran starter had an injury to his left shoulder last season but is expected to be fully recovered.
Rondon began last season on a one-year ‘show me’ type deal with the Chicago White Sox and proved he can still be a top of the rotation starter following Tommy John surgery the year prior.
The 29-year old had been in the Cy Young mix until his season derailed mid-summer to left shoulder fatigue. Rondon made 24 starts in 2021, posting an incredible 2.37 ERA, to go along with a FIP of 2.65 and a strikeout rate of 34.6% over to go with a 6.7% walk rate 132.2 innings pitched. Rondon also produced a 4.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
Rondon struck out a career-high 12.55 batters per nine innings last season while walking a career-best 2.44 per nine. It comes as a bit of a surprise that the Chicago White Sox, who enter the year as World Series hopefuls, didn’t qualify Rondon for one year at $18.4 million.
FanGraphs has this fascinating tool that converts a player’s WAR into a dollar figure based on what said player would make in free agency. Last season, Rondon’s value equaled $39.1 million, which not only is a career-high but blew his value over the previous four seasons out of the water.
When you take the average value of the previous four seasons, the dollar figure averages $5.1 million per season. That does include two years where he saw limited action making just nine starts combined.
There is enough here to proceed with caution knowing Rondon’s history. Still, I would not be opposed if the Detroit Tigers signed the veteran left-hander to replace Tyler Alexander, who, as of now, is expected to take a regular turn in the rotation with Spencer Turnbull injured and the organization having parted ways with Matthew Boyd.
The Tigers added Eduardo Rodriquez for just over $15 million per season. Rondon is expected to make a lot more which likely takes the Tigers out of the running for his services, but if Avila is really trying to build a contender, sandwiching Mize between two proven lefties at the top of the rotation wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Spotrac predicts Rondon to fetch an average of $24 million per season. I’d be ok with this on a short-term deal, but nothing more than three years.