Rodón, Junis aim to keep up Giants’ winning tradition
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Drawn by a myriad of factors that include the team’s winning tradition, a record-breaking season, the West Coast location and a positive reputation for working with pitchers, left-hander Carlos Rodón and right-hander Jakob Junis passed their physical exams and were officially added to the San Francisco Giants’ roster on Monday.
The arrival of the pair, who were nearly teammates at North Carolina State, came after the Giants re-signed Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood and added Alex Cobb in the aftermath of Kevin Gausman’s departure to the Blue Jays.
When the lockout lifted Thursday afternoon, the Giants were the first team to call Rodón, who became a first-time All-Star last year with the White Sox under the direction of Ethan Katz, a former Giants assistant pitching coach.
“We worked really well together, changed some things, and put together a pretty special season, one of the best ones of my career, which led me to the Giants,” Rodón said. “I’m really grateful for that time with Ethan, and I think it will be a pretty seamless to Andrew (Bailey, current Giants pitching coach).”
Rodón finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting after posting a 2.73 ERA. He missed time in the second half because of shoulder fatigue, following a four-year span of limited workload because of two surgeries, including a Tommy John surgery, which kept him to nine starts over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Rodón said that a change with his lower-half mechanics led to an increase in velocity in 2021. He said he hasn’t experienced any shoulder issues while throwing indoor bullpens in his home state of Indiana.
“I feel great, I feel great, I am ready to throw outside,” he said.
Rodón, 29, agreed to a $44 million, two-year contract that pays $21.5 million this year and $22.5 million in 2023. If he pitches 110 or more innings this year, he would have the right to opt out of the second season.
“To have a good year, maybe test the market; I don’t know, we’ll see,” he said. “I am trying to be honest with you guys … Like I said, my goal is to come here and win. I’m not really focused on what my contract entails.”
As a high school player in Holly Springs, North Carolina, Rodón recalls seeing the Giants in the playoffs on a yearly basis.
“A lot of very special players have come through the Giants organization, they have a winning tradition,” he said. “The organization itself, the ballpark, the city, the winning tradition, it is kind of hard to turn down.’’
The Giants, who won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014, posted a franchise-record 107 victories last season in taking the NL West title.
While noting that he does not want to sound “self-congratulatory,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler is pleased that Rodón was drawn by the team’s reputation for working with pitchers.
“We have a coaching staff, a pitching department who does a fine job of helping a guy like Carlos who, at times was a Cy Young-type pitcher last year,” Kapler said. “He is leading this, he wants to be on the field as much as possible, and take on as many innings at that level of that effectiveness, as possible.”
“We can help with those things. We were able to help with those things with Kevin (Gausman), I think we were able to help with those things with Drew (Smyly), I think we were able to help with those things with Tony DeSclafani. And we’re not resting on, or trying to repeat exactly the same process with those pitchers, trying to tweak them to some degree or another, but feel a lot of confidence that we can help Carlos be good,” he said.
Rodón played at North Carolina State, a school that Junis, 29, committed to during his time at Rock Falls High School in Illinois, before signing with the Kansas City Royals, where he had spent his entire career.
“It is funny how paths crossed,” Rodón said, noting that he and Junis are both with a new organization for the first time in their careers.
Junis, who gets a $1.75 million, one-year contract, has been a starter and a reliever while posting a 4.82 ERA in his five-year big league career. He pitched a total of only 64 2-3 innings the past two seasons, after tossing 175 1-31 in 2019.
“I wanted to go to a good team that can contend, try to get to the playoffs, win the World Series, that’s ultimately all we’re working for,” said Junis, whose home is just a 12-minute drive from Scottsdale. “I like the central location of spring training here in Arizona, and I wanted to stay on the West Coast because of my family.’’
Notes: LHP Caleb Baragar and RHP Hunter Harvey were designated for assignment to make room for Rodon and Junis.
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