Yankees to trade starting pitcher to free up funds for Soto’s deal? Insider floats idea

Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes are with Yankees' pitching coach Matt Blake during the 2024 spring training camp in Tampa.

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With owner Hal Steinbrenner admitting last week the Yankees’ current $300 million payroll is unsustainable, speculation has arisen about how the team could trim salary, especially if they want to pursue superstar Juan Soto.

The obvious move would be relying more on younger, cheaper talent instead of pricey veterans, including potentially letting second baseman Gleyber Torres depart in free agency after this $14.2 million season. However, The New York Post’s Joel Sherman suggested on his “The Show” podcast that trading Carlos Rodon could creatively open significant payroll flexibility.

Sherman noted to co-host Jon Heyman that injured starters with hefty remaining contracts, like Robbie Ray in the 2023 offseason, have proven tradable. He posited that if Rodon would have a similar 2024, the Yankees could potentially move him this winter to clear his salary and reshape their rotation around Gerrit Cole and prospects.

“By the way, you know Robbie Ray was traded in the offseason as a hurt pitcher with a lot of years left,” Sherman told. “If Carlos Rodón has this kind of year, he becomes probably a tradable player if they want to open up that kind of salary slot and they think that the other four guys plus (Gerrit) Cole moving forward could be the rotation. So I think they’ll have some ability to move, create finances in the offseason, understanding what Soto means to today’s team and the brand and winning.”

This would create financial leeway to extend or sign other stars like Soto, whom Sherman said the Yankees covet for his elite talent and marketing appeal. Steinbrenner had expressed a desire to get below the highest luxury tax level eventually.

Trading Rodon a bold move for Yankees

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 02: Starting pitcher Carlos Rodón #55 of the New York Yankees celebrates the end of the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 2, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland
Patrick Smith/Getty Images / Licensed by Google

Trading a frontline starter like Rodon would be a bold move, but one the resourceful Yankees have explored before when tweaking their roster under budgetary constraints. How they maneuver this offseason could reveal their priorities between trimming payroll and sustained championship contention.

After a disappointing 2023 season with the New York Yankees, where he posted an unsatisfactory 6.85 ERA over 64 1/3 innings, Rodon has revitalized his performance in the second year, recording a commendable 2.95 ERA and 1.18 WHIP across 61 innings. He is a crucial part of the Yankees’ rotation, which boasts a major league-leading 2.73 ERA, achieved without the contribution of their ace, Gerrit Cole.

MLB insiders Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman do not believe the Yankees should need to reduce their payroll. However, Sherman speculated that during the offseason, the Yankees might consider their rotation depth, comprising Cole, Rodon, Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, and Nestor Cortes, and view Rodon as a valuable asset. He could provide salary relief as the Yankees pursue Soto, whose acquisition has transformed the Yankees’ lineup and contributed to their impressive 37-19 record.

While Rodon is only in the second year of a six-year, $162 million deal, his performance in 2024 has made him a viable consideration for such a plan, according to Sherman.

In a separate development, Robbie Ray, formerly of the Seattle Mariners, was traded to the San Francisco Giants in January, during the third year of his five-year, $115 million contract. Ray’s trade occurred while he was rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery, illustrating that anything is possible in the world of baseball transactions.

Yankees great justifies Soto’s strategy on free agency

Contrary to the wishes of New York Yankees fans, right fielder Juan Soto is expected to become a free agent this offseason.

According to former Yankees pitcher David Cone, speaking on the ESPN “Baseball Tonight” podcast on Monday, Soto will be a rare 26-year-old free agent with a Hall of Fame resume to his name. Cone stated that it makes too much sense for Soto to hold out and explore the opportunities and money available in the offseason.

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Cone recalled his own experience, saying that when he was in a similar position, he could sense the finish line approaching. He emphasized that one cannot truly know their value until they reach free agency, as Marvin Miller fought for years ago. Miller, a Baseball Hall of Famer and longtime MLB Players Association executive director, negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports in 1968, allowing players to find their true worth when other teams bid for their services.

“You know, you’re so close to free agency,” Cone said. “Just speaking from experience, when I was in that position, you could smell the finish line. You don’t know until you know in free agency. …Get out there and you find out what other teams feel about you when you get those bids on the table and you see if you can get the market to move that way.”

Soto has dominated the competition in his 56 games with the Yankees, boasting a .312/.408/.581 slash line with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. He has a 177 OPS+, the second-highest of his career.

Cone further elaborated that players in Soto’s position must put their name out there and allow potential suitors to make their offers, enabling them to assess the market and determine their true value.

Agent Scott Boras is known for nearly always bringing his clients to the open market, and Soto has already turned down extension offers in the past, suggesting he intends to test free agency.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

3 thoughts on “Yankees to trade starting pitcher to free up funds for Soto’s deal? Insider floats idea

  1. There’s something everyone seems to have overlooked when talking about Soto’s wonderful first year as a Yankee. The article barely touched on it, without pursuing the subject further in this sentence:

    “Soto has dominated the competition in his 56 games with the Yankees, boasting a .312/.408/.581 slash line with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. He has a 177 OPS+, the second-highest of his career.”

    There’s no question that Soto is, indeed, a TRUE Generational Player, unlike so many pretenders in the past. But even a True Generational Player Benefits by being surrounded by SUPERIOR TALENT.

    Having Jude behind him has been an important factor in Soto getting hittable pitches; there’s no question about that. But also having Volpe before him getting on 1st, and thus virtually eliminating the possibility of teams pitching around him has also Contributed Greatly to his RBI totals & batting average, because he’s getting more hittable pitches.

    Having an excellent contact hitter, like Verdugo in the lineup has also contributed to Soto’s success, even though he bats two slots behind Soto because teams know that with Judge & Verdugo coming up behind Soto, they can’t just pitch around Soto.

    The configuration of Yankee Stadium also Greatly Suits Soto’s game. If he pulls the ball & gets any air under it, it’s likely a homer. If not, it’s either a single or a double.

    And if he goes opposite field, it often ends up being a homer or a double. Yankee Stadium seems ideally designed for Soto, as much as Judge.

    My point is this: Soto is going to be VERY RICH when he signs his next contract, regardless of with whom he signs, so hopefully Soto also has His Eyes on His Legacy, and playing for a Perennial Contender like the Yankees & being surrounded by Superior Talent will INEVITABLY Help Inflate His Career Statistics to possibly Historic Levels. He might even surpass Bonds’ TAINTED Career HR Total, which 99% of baseball fans would love to see to get that CHEATER off the record.

    If Soto wishes to be a Member of the GREATEST OF THE GREAT when his Career is finished, playing the rest of his career on a perennial contender with a talented lineup around him will help him achieve The Maximum Level of Stats for someone with his enviable Talent.

    There’s two other factors Soto will hopefully consider very seriously: 1) Being a star Player n the Greatest American City, with a very large Hispanic audience, will Inevitably offer him More Endorsement Possibilitie$, and 2) Going into the Hall of Fame as a Member of the New York Yankees will just as Inevitably Raise His National Appeal to Advertisers, as Derek Jeter’s Post Career shows.

    The above factors for signing with the Yankees long term are SOMETHING NO OTHER TEAM IN BASEBALL, including the Mets, CAN OFFER SOTO. So, he’d be wise, I think, to factor the above HEAVILY into his decision-making process on whom he signs his next contract with.

  2. There’s a simple way for Hal S. to prove to Yankee Fans that a $300+ Million payroll is unsustainable:

    Open the Yankees’ Financial Records to a review by a REPUTABLE INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTING FIRM & HAVE THEM PUBLICLY REPORT WHAT THE YANKEES INCOME IS AFTER ALL TEAM-RLATED EXPENSES.

    If you Fail to do that Hal, it will tell Yankee Fans everywhere that YOU’RE FULL OF CRAP in saying a $300+ Million Payroll is unsustainable.

    I’d like to see pinstripesnation.com conduct a poll on the subject & ask fans whether they’d like to see an independent accounting firm’s report that Confirms or Denies Hal’S Suspect ASSertion that a $300+ Million Payroll is unsustainable for the Yankees.

  3. Watching the games on tv every night, it sure seems Soto is enjoying himself playing for the Yankees, between the players and the most important part I notice is the “BLEACHER CREATURES”. They seem to have him pumped up during the whole game. I would send someone out to talk with that fun group and explain to them their true value, maybe send some free beer out to them every now and then. There is no better group in Baseball than that group. Keep it up guys, being a fan since 1958, you guys put together a great show. I wish I was young enough and close enough to become one of you on a regular basis. great job. Not to ignore the rest if the fan base, but stay rowdy, clean and have some great fun at the games.

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