Carlos Rodón, newly shaved, puts on Yankees pinstripes
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By RONALD BLUM
NEW YORK (AP) As soon as he struck an agreement with the New York Yankees last week, Carlos Rodon reached for a razor.
"I was like, screw it. I might as well shave now because I know in about a week if I tried to shave and I have razor bumps, it's not going to look great," the pitcher said.
He shaved again Thursday for a Yankee Stadium news conference to discuss his $162 million, six-year contract, the 30-year-old left-hander appearing at a ballpark without a beard for what he said likely was the first time since rookie ball in 2014.
New York famously has a team rule against beards and long hair.
"You'll get used to it. There'll be days you push the envelope a little bit and I got to walk up to you and say, `What's going on here?'" Yankees manager Aaron Boone said with a smile.
Rodon's wife, children, parents and in-laws attended the new conference. His look was new for the kids.
"I am surprised they noticed who I was," he said.
Before agreeing to the contract, Rodon had received Venmo payments from fans hoping to pursuade him to join their favorite club, many of them Yankees supporters.
"I started to send them back," he said, recounting how his wife pointed out there were about 400 Venmos. At the suggestion of a cousin, they will give the money to a person in Indiana whose house burned down and who did not have insurance.
"Yankees fans and all fans of baseball, I appreciate you guys sending me Venmos," Rodon said. "I don't need the money, but we're going to give it to someone that does need the money."
Selected third by the Chicago White Sox in the 2014 amateur draft, Rodon struggled to stay on the field in his early big league seasons. He was sidelined by a sprained left wrist in 2016, left biceps bursitis, left shoulder inflammation and arthroscopic shoulder surgery in 2017, left shoulder rehabilitation in 2018, left elbow inflammation and Tommy John surgery in 2019, left shoulder soreness in 2020 and left shoulder fatigue in 2021.
Chicago cut him after the 2020 season, then re-signed him for $3 million.
"It was definitely humbling," he said. "Being non-tendered was definitely not in the plans, but something I understand from a business aspect. The performance wasn't there at the time and the durability wasn't there."
Rodon went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 2021, pitching a no-hitter against Cleveland and making his first All-Star team, then agreed to a $44 million, two-year contract with San Francisco. Rodon went 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA this year, striking out 237 in 178 innings, and opted out of his contract.
"I can't deny that he has a history of injuries prior to the last two seasons," said general manager Brian Cashman, who tried to acquire Rodon from the Giants last summer. "Certainly the hope and belief is that he's found his sweet spot here in the last two years that allows him to do what he does best and take that ball every five days."
Rodon threw 61% fastballs last season, 31% sliders, 6% curveballs and 2% changeups.
"Let's not try to complicate things. Let's keep it simple stupid," he said. "If it gets outs, it gets outs. It gets swing and miss, it gets swing and miss. Why change something?"
Rodon gets a $5 million signing bonus payable within 30 days of approval by MLB, a $22 million salary next year and $27 million in each remaining season. He joins a rotation headed by Gerrit Cole and projected to include Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas.
Rodon was assigned jersey No. 55, which had been used since 2019 by Domingo German - who remains on the roster.
"Carlos, we are so convinced that you are going to succeed here," Yankees President Randy Levine said. "We feel it. We've been looking at you for a long time and we know you're going to succeed here."
Rodon is 56-46 with a 3.60 ERA in 152 major league appearances over eight seasons. He has 947 strikeouts in 847 1/3 innings.
"I do remember when you were coming out of N.C. State that you were that guy that I think everyone kind of viewed as this guy is going to be a stud," Boone said. "You've dealt with adversity already in your career and have turned into, I think, what a lot of people expected."
NOTES: LHP Lucas Luetge was designated for assignment to open a roster spot for RHP Tommy Kahnle.
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Updated December 22, 2022