Lots of MLB teams still have a need for pitching once the lockout ends.
Which one would make for a better signing for the 2022 season?
Let’s analyze each situation.
The Case For Rodon
Between the two pitchers, one of them had a clearly better season than the other.
Rodon, had he thrown enough innings, would have been a bonafide Cy Young candidate in the American League.
He averaged a career-high 95.4 mph on average on his four-seam fastball, and that unlocked a whole new level of performance for him.
In 132.2 innings in 2021, the southpaw had a 13-5 record and a career-best 2.37 ERA.
He also posted career-bests in K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) with 12.55.
His breakout was also boosted by an improvement in control, with 2.44 walks per nine innings.
He achieved a higher WAR (Wins Above Replacement) than Kershaw, with 4.9 to Kershaw’s 3.4 mark.
Basically, Rodon would be a better bet than Kershaw for the next five years because he is four years younger.
However, Rodon has to prove his 2021 performance wasn’t a fluke, as his 3.79 career ERA is considerably higher than last year’s 2.37 mark.
Additionally, the former Chicago White Sox pitcher needs to prove his arm is in good shape come spring training.
He missed important innings down the stretch with left arm soreness that resulted in him pitching in the playoffs at less than 100 percent.
The Case For Kershaw
If we are factoring experience and track record, then Kershaw should be the better option of the two with some difference.
Additionally, while his 2021 wasn’t as good as Rodon’s, he did have a great season when healthy.
The former MVP winner pitched 121.2 innings, with a solid 3.55 ERA and a 29.5 percent strikeout rate.
He accumulated 3.4 WAR.
Kershaw has been around for so long that you would think he is at least 37 years old.
However, he hasn’t even turned 34 yet and should have a few good years in him.
When healthy, Kershaw’s track record and experience is a bonus for any team on the planet.
There are two things to consider, though.
One, he had arm issues, like Rodon.
In fact, he missed more than two months of the 2021 campaign with a flexor tendon issue.
He has a lot of mileage in his left arm, so any contract he sign represents an injury risk.
The other thing to consider is that he remains likely to re-sign with the only team he has played for in his entire career: the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If Rodon is a better bet for the next five years, Kershaw, if fully healthy, should be a superior choice for the next one or two seasons.
Rodon or Ray would make for better long-term signings IMO. Or if they don’t wanna go that route, 1-2 years of Kershaw. Hell even Matz wouldn’t be much of a downgrade from Eddie
— Marky Mark (@nostalgicnerd96) November 15, 2021
It’s closer than people think, because both Rodon and Kershaw are excellent pitchers.
Rodon represents the present and future, while Kershaw has the track record edge but still figures to pitch at a high level for a couple more seasons.
Obviously we'll know more about the future in the coming days but Kershaw pitched this season like he had multiple good, productive years left in the tank.
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) October 2, 2021
If they are both 100 percent and truly available to sign for any team, MLB clubs should prioritize Kershaw because he has been excellent for longer and still has his stuff, even if he isn’t in another galaxy as he used to be in the mid-2010s.