Zaidi explains how Rodon’s refusal created a wedge in trade talks originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – Late in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on July 21, Carlos Rodon sent Freddie Freeman to center and Will Smith to left. He received two hits on Justin Turner and then made a curve ball that the Dodgers third baseman weakly popped to the right. Rodon watched as he landed in Luis Gonzalez’s glove and then walked slowly back to the guest dugout.
For the 53,000 in attendance and the national audience watching on television, it was a very routine inning. For Rawdon, this was pretty serious.
Rodon came to San Francisco in part because of the creative construction of his two-year contract. The Giants gave him the option to opt out of the deal after 2022 if he hit 110 innings, and Rawdon did so on the first night of the second half.
He can – and almost certainly won’t – back out of his deal after the season, and when the Giants researched the trading market this week, they found that was a complication. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was not actively looking to make a deal with Rawdon, but as the Giants fell in the standings in July, he answered many phone calls and took charge. “very open” approach by the deadline.
Rawdon ended up staying in Orange and Black, and on Friday’s Giants Talk podcast, Zaidi explained how the no-participation clause complicated discussions that might have looked simpler from the outside.
“This has created an interesting wedge in these discussions,” Zaidi said. “First of all, we are great about[Rodon’s]health and he hasn’t had any issues this year and obviously he’s a really good fit for us. But if he lives until the end of the year and refuses, we have the opportunity to extend the qualifying offer. We will certainly discuss his return (under a new deal). He was a great giant.
“When you look at an acquiring team they lose the ability to qualify him so they don’t have that potential profit and I really think the acquiring teams were concerned about a player option which was basically acting as an insurance policy for a player who really, what these options are players. Obviously we were willing to take the risk because we just believed in his ability to help us and stay healthy.”
Giants, of course put a high price on Rawdon, who just as easily became the top starting pitcher after Luis Castillo and Frankie Montaz were traded to the Mariners and Yankees, respectively. The industry consensus was that the Reds and A’s were doing well in these deals, and the Giants should have gotten a good package for Rawdon.
But the front offices are becoming more and more risk averse, and Rawdon is facing what some rival raters see as a huge complication. If he stays healthy, he will refuse. If he gets hurt, he could just exercise his $22.5 million option for 2023 and try out as a free agent a year later. He was not a real landlord, but he was not under the control of the club until 2023, like Castillo and Montas.
You can make a strong argument that this is all too much and that some other front office may regret their decision. Rodon leads all starting pitchers in FanGraph’s version of Wins Over Substitution and is the strongest pitcher who can start the first game of a playoff series for any opponent. Every pitcher presents a risk of injury, but if you’re going to pitch, you should do it on someone who can help you win the title.
The Giants signed Rawdon for the purpose and they were able to give him a two-year contract due to some shoulder pain in 2021 that limited his market. But Rodon was healthy all year, took the ball every five days. If he continues like this, he will pull out and try to repeat the trades of Robbie Ray ($115 million) or Kevin Gausman ($110 million) last offseason.
Zaidi said the Giants would consider keeping him for a long time, and at the very least they would refund the draft pick compensation if Rawdon left, just like they did with Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith after a similar deadline. in 2019. It could end up being somewhat equivalent to what happened on Tuesday, as the Giants have never received an offer that would have forced them to trade their best player, due in part to a waiver that Zaidi called a “realistic complication.”
On Tuesday, all participants said they were happy with how things turned out. The Giants then lost the next three games, trailing 6 1/2 games from last place in the NL playoffs. Ultimately, they may look back on August 2 and feel like it was a missed opportunity, but Zaidi said the prospect of a full sell-off was never there.
This seems to be supported by what has happened elsewhere, especially in Chicago. The Cubs, in a complete rebuild, manipulated Wilson Contreras and Ian Happ for months, but ended up not trading a single player.
“I think for the sake of our long-term picture, we had to be open-minded about (trading), but we were going to pay dearly for taking a step back this year, for hurting our chances this year with (trading) some guys who could be influencers for other teams and are influencers for us,” Zaidi said. “It was an interesting deadline. I think if you compare it to last year – even though there were some big headlines (this year) – you didn’t see a lot of moves.
“Some teams that I would call pure sellers, which of course we weren’t, kept some players and even some players with expiring contracts, which was a bit surprising. But I think that says a little about the fact that it wasn’t the seller’s market it was last year.”