Outside, it was every bit the first full day of winter, the sky a slate gray, spitting cold, angry rain. Baseball season never seems as far away as it does on the first day of winter even if there were a few seconds more daylight on Thursday than there’d been on Wednesday.

Inside, you could easily imagine July, 90 degrees and humid as a sauna.

Better, you could conjure October because, look, this was Yankee Stadium and the mission never changes here. Everything always points to October. Everything is forever focused on adding a 28th banner to the team collection. And so it was, about six minutes after wrapping himself in his new pinstriped vestments, that Carlos Rodon officially fielded his first question about restoring the Yankees to the mountaintop.

Some believe players achieve their first signature “Yankee moments” on the field, in uniform, in the middle of the spring. In truth that usually happens on a podium, in a suit and tie, sometimes on the first full day of winter.

“I had a brief experience in the postseason,” Rodon said, referencing the two appearances he made in the Octobers of 2020 and ’21 with the Chicago White Sox. “I’ve always wanted more. Winning is at top of my list as a player.”

And then, the money shot:

“As you know,” Rodon said, “it’s the Yankee Way.”

New Yankee Carlos Rodon addresses the media during his introductory press conference.
New Yankee Carlos Rodon addresses the media during his introductory press conference.
Corey Sipkin

So he understands from the jump what the stakes are here. The Yankees have gone 13 years without a championship. It isn’t quite the depression of 1979-’95, or the recession of 1963-76, but it’s getting there, and so the Yankees’ three major decisions so far this offseason have all announced that they intend to find an exit ramp from the World Series desert. They brought back Anthony Rizzo, a nice retention. They both signed Aaron Judge and promised him the metaphorical “C” on his chest. That was essential.

And now they have Rodon, which means that in the best-case blueprint of their 2023 season they will have something that few teams ever have: what should be a losing-streak-proof starting rotation. Rodon joins Gerrit Cole at the top, with Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas feathering in behind.

If the Yankees are blessed with good health with each member of that staff resembling the back of their baseball cards, they will avoid the roller-coaster rides that plagued them all across a 99-win regular season last year and, even better, will be fortified to take on all comers — yes, even the pitching-rich Astros — in any short series of any length you choose.

“Carlos,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said, “is one of the extreme competitors in the game.”

Carlos Rodon's son, Bo, plays with his dad's Yankees cap during his introductory press conference.
Carlos Rodon’s son, Bo, plays with his dad’s Yankees cap during his introductory press conference.
Corey Sipkin

That will help, yes, especially in the pressure cooker that is life in New York City. He is left-handed, which means that the rotation is as balanced as mathematically possible for a five-man crew and which has always been a strong asset to have at Yankee Stadium, Herb Pennock to Lefty Gomez, Eddie Lopat to Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry to Andy Pettitte.

And he has already shown great proficiency at Yankee Stadium; in four career starts, all with the ChiSox, he is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA, with 24 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. Those are the kinds of numbers that make a six-year, $162 million contract a no-brainer, especially since the Yankees already tried to pry Rodon away from the Giants last July.

“I always appreciate everyone’s journey in Major League Baseball,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You never know the road it’s going to take. Carlos has turned into what a lot of people expected: a dominant ace pitcher we can’t wait to add to a very special rotation.”

We know how easy it is to win press conferences in December, and how much more difficult it is to win big-money games in October. We’ve seen it time and again, both sides of town, all sports, all teams. All you can do in December is give yourself a chance to maximize October. The Yankees have done that with Rizzo, with Judge, with Rodon.

“I hope to win a lot of games at Yankee Stadium,” Rodon said.

It was a popular Christmas wish inside that building Thursday morning, the ugly menace of winter yielding ever so briefly to the eternal promise of summer, even for just an hour.