Fernando Rodney Rumors

Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney, Designate Brian Schlitter

The Mariners announced that they’ve traded right-hander Fernando Rodney to the Cubs in exchange for cash considerations (Twitter link). Lefty Zac Rosscup has been optioned to Triple-A, while righty Brian Schlitter has been designated for assignment, according to an announcement from the Cubs, which states that either a player to be named later or cash will head to Seattle in the deal.

Fernando Rodney

Signed to a two-year, $14MM contract prior to the 2014 season, Rodney served as the Mariners’ closer all last season and for parts of the 2015 campaign as well. However, while he worked to a strong 2.85 ERA with 10.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate in 2014, Rodney imploded in 2015, totaling a 5.68 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and a career-worst 1.4 HR/9 rate. Those struggles ultimately led to the 38-year-old being designated for assignment over the weekend. Rodney is owed about $1.49MM through season’s end as part of that $14MM pact.

His 2015 struggles notwithstanding, Rodney enjoyed a late career resurgence from 2012-14, posting a 2.21 ERA in 207 2/3 innings. The Cubs will hope they can bring out some of that form to help what has been an up and down season for the team’s relief corps. The team is currently without Jason Motte, Neil Ramirez and Rafael Soriano, each of whom is on the disabled list, so Rodney will provide manager Joe Maddon with another veteran relief arm. Maddon, for that matter, is quite familiar with Rodney, having managed him in 2012-13 when Rodney posted a record-setting 0.60 ERA in 74 2/3 innings. While Rodney’s velocity isn’t as strong as the 96.3 mph he averaged over the course of those two seasons, he’s still averaged a very healthy 94.8 mph on his heater this season. Because he’s been acquired prior to Sept. 1, Rodney will be eligible for the Cubs’ postseason roster.

Schiltter, 29, has been up and down with the Cubs over the past six seasons after debuting as a 24-year-old back in 2010. The former 16th-round pick didn’t appear in the Majors from 2011-13 but resurfaced to deliver 56 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball with 5.0 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9. He’s totaled only 7 1/3 innings with the Chicago ‘pen in 2015, though, allowing six runs on 12 hits and a pair of walks with four strikeouts. Schlitter does have an outstanding 1.09 ERA in 41 1/3 Triple-A innings this season, though that seemingly pristine mark comes with just 7.0 K/9 against a troubling 5.0 BB/9.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Mariners Designate Fernando Rodney For Assignment

The Mariners have designated former closer Fernando Rodney for assignment, the club announced following Saturday’s loss to the White Sox.  In corresponding moves, the M’s also optioned righty Danny Farquhar to Triple-A, called up southpaw Roenis Elias and purchased the contract of right-hander Logan Kensing.

Thanks in large part to a 1.42 HR/9 (more than double his career average) and his lowest K/9 total (7.6) in four seasons, Rodney posted a 5.68 ERA over 50 2/3 IP this season, a performance that cost him his job as the Mariners’ closer.  It’s probably unlikely that Rodney will be claimed or traded during his DFA period given that he already cleared revocable trade waivers last week.  Rodney is still averaging 94.8mph on his fastball (same as last season) so it’s possible another team could look to sign the 38-year-old veteran as bullpen depth before the rosters expand on September 1.

The Mariners are responsible for the approximately $1.5MM in salary still owed to Rodney for the remainder of the season, except for the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary should Rodney sign elsewhere.  The right-hander signed a two-year, $14MM free agent deal in the 2013-14 offseason and performed extremely well in the contract’s first year, posting a 2.85 ERA, 10.3 K/9 and 2.71 K/BB rate over 66 1/3 innings en route to a league-best 48 saves.  Rodney and his new agents will undoubtedly point to his 2012-14 dominance when the righty looks for a new contract in free agency this year, though obviously this year’s numbers will greatly diminish his market.

Kensing has spent the last two seasons with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, and he has a 2.30 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 2.56 K/BB rate over 31 1/3 innings this season.  Kensing has appeared in just one Major League game since 2009, pitching two-thirds of an inning for the Rockies in 2013.


Reed, Rodney, Axford, Mujica, Aardsma Clear Waivers

Right-handers Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Edward Mujica and David Aardsma have all cleared revocable trade waivers, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, making them eligible to be dealt to any club.

Of the listed group, only the veteran Aardsma has even posted a sub-4.00 ERA this season, as the 33-year-old has a 3.95 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 27 1/3 innings with the Braves. He’s generating grounders at just a 29.9 percent clip though and has had some home run issues to go along with his questionable control. Aardsma inked a minor league deal with the Braves, so his salary for the remainder of the season is light in comparison to the peers with whom he’s listed.

Reed, 26, was an up-and-coming closer not long ago was viewed in a strong enough light for the D-Backs to surrender one of their top prospects (Matt Davidson) for him in the 2013-14 offseason. His first season with the Diamondbacks resulted in a 4.25 ERA, however, and he’s up to 4.46 this season. Reed lost his job to Brad Ziegler earlier in the year and has been demoted to Triple-A this season.

Since returning, Reed has yielded just one run on nine hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in 10 innings, so things do look considerably brighter of late. However, Reed is also earning $4.875MM this season, and he’s still owed about $1.33MM of that sum through season’s end. He’s controllable through the 2017 season but is a definite non-tender candidate following the season, as he’ll top $5MM via arbitration despite his 2015 struggles.

The 38-year-old Rodney is perhaps the least surprising name on Sherman’s list. In 50 innings this season, he’s posted a 5.05 ERA with diminished strikeout (7.6 K/9) and walk (4.1 BB/9) rates to go along with a career-worst 1.44 HR/9 rate. Rodney’s fastball is averaging 94.9 mph, so he still has plenty of heat, but the results haven’t been there in 2015, and he’s owed $1.91MM of his $7MM salary through season’s end.

Axford, 32, has seen his share of struggles as well in his first year with the Rockies. Axford began the year in dominant fashion, yielding just one run in 19 innings and usurping LaTroy Hawkins as the Colorado closer. However, in the 19 2/3 innings that have followed that initial stretch, he’s been tagged for 19 runs on a dismal 29 hits and 15 walks. Teams in search of relief help may have some degree of hope that Coors Field has contributed to his poor results of late; Axford does have a 5.32 ERA in Denver versus a 3.78 ERA on the road. But, walks are walks in any park, and Axford has issued 10 free passes in 16 2/3 innings on the road.

Mujica has already been designated for assignment once this season (by the Red Sox), and his numbers have only worsened following a trade to the Athletics. The 31-year-old is still showing excellent control (1.3 BB/9 rate), but he’s averaging just six strikeouts per nine innings and has been entirely too hittable. Opponents are batting .309/.336/.525 against Mujica in 2015, and the result has been an unsightly 5.25 ERA. Even if he weren’t owed $1.3MM through the end of the season, he’d be a tough sell as a bullpen upgrade for a team seeking relief help.

Each of these relievers has been added to MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers, which can be always be found under the MLBTR Features on the right-hand sidebar for desktop users.



Fernando Rodney Changes Agents

Mariners reliever Fernando Rodney has signed on with Octagon Baseball, the agency announced on Twitter. Rodney had previously been with MVP Sports Group.

A 13-year MLB veteran, the 38-year-old Rodney is nearing the end of a two-year, $14MM deal with Seattle. He was excellent last year, working to a 2.85 ERA with 10.3 /9 and 3.8 BB/9 over 66 1/3 frames, racking up a league-leading 48 saves in the process.

But things have turned south thus far in 2015. Over 37 2/3 frames, his ERA stands at an ugly 5.73, leading to a loss of 9th inning duties. While his walk rate has gone up slightly, Rodney has seen his strikeout rate drop to 7.2 K/9 as he continues to generate less swings and misses.

Rodney still has time to rebuild value this year, and there at least some signs of promise. His average fastball velocity still tops 95 mph. Though he’s allowed long balls at about twice his career average, Rodney’s groundball rate is still over 50% and he’s allowed less overall hard contact than in the previous two seasons.

With the change in representation, it would seem likely that Rodney intends to play in 2016. Though Rodney’s age and recent results suggest that his new agents will have their work cut out for them, he’s sure to generate interest given his track record and maintained velocity.


Heyman’s Latest: Twins, Mariners, Draft, Viciedo

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports’ latest column contains notes on every team throughout baseball. Here are a few highlights.

  • The Twins are surprise contenders this year, and they’re open to acquiring a middle-of-the-order hitter, possibly an outfielder, Heyman writes. They could also seek relief help.
  • After trading for Mark Trumbo, the Mariners seem to lack budget flexibility, which might be the reason they weren’t a serious contender for Rafael Soriano despite Fernando Rodney‘s poor performance this season.
  • The Astros are expected to sign No. 37 overall pick Daz Cameron for about $4MM, Heyman notes. Cameron, who is committed to Florida State, fell in the draft due to signability concerns.
  • The Marlins are close to signing first baseman Josh Naylor, the No. 12 overall pick in the draft.
  • The Dodgers might have a tough time signing No. 35 overall pick Kyle Funkhouser. The righty could head back to Louisville for his senior season, much as Mark Appel spurned the Pirates a few years back so he could complete his degree at Stanford and re-enter the draft the following year.
  • Free agent and former White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo has received offers for minor-league deals, but he’s holding out for a big-league contract, Heyman reports.
  • MLB might think about moving the draft from Secaucus, New Jersey to a different location, perhaps Omaha. That would allow more top prospects to attend.

AL Notes: Orioles, Rodney, Sabathia, A’s Catchers

We just looked at the latest from the AL Central; here are some notes from the rest of the American League:

  • The Orioles will not discuss contract extensions during the season, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “We’re not going to be exploring any extensions during the season,” said Executive VP Dan Duquette. “… Once the season starts, I think it benefits the team and the players and the fans to keep the focus on the field and the players on the field.” While star center fielder Adam Jones was inked to a mid-season extension back in 2012, Duquette explained that was a different situation since “we started that discussion during the winter, and it extended into the season.” The team is not presently in talks with any of its current crop of pending free agents, Duquette said. While shortstop J.J. Hardy had been linked to contract chatter during the spring, he and fellow free-agents-to-be Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis will seemingly be allowed to test the open market. (MLBTR’s Steve Adams just took a look an early look at the free agent case of Markakis.)
  • Mariners closer Fernando Rodney said today that he wanted to stay with the Rays but never received a contract offer, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Rodney added that he received two-year offers from the MetsOrioles, and Indians, in addition to a one-year offer from the Yankees, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Of course, Rodney ultimately went to Seattle for two years and $14MM.
  • Yankees hurler C.C. Sabathia is headed to see Dr. James Andrews, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, though thankfully the issue is in his knee rather than his left elbow. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes, the visit is viewed as precautionary, as a recent MRI showed no structural issues. “The best-case scenario is, CC gets the knee drained, rests for five days and gets a couple of bullpens under his belt and he takes the start after he comes off the DL,” said GM Brian Cashman. “That’s the best-case scenario. I’m not saying that’s the scenario we’re dealing with yet, but that’s the best.” The club will hope that proves to be the result, as its rotation is already dealing with several notable injuries. Needless to say, any ongoing issues with Sabathia would only further enhance New York’s starting pitcher needs at the trade deadline.
  • The Athletics have gained more production from the catching spot than any other American League club through the combination of Derek Norris and John Jaso, writes John Hickey of Bay Area News Group. Heading into today’s action, the platoon pair had combined for an impressive .338/.419/.507 triple-slash. Indeed, that line has actually been good enough to vault the A’s catching unit into the league lead by measure of fWAR, with a healthy 1.9 wins above replacement through just 184 plate appearances. Both players came to Oakland through trades involving the Nationals, with Norris a piece in the Gio Gonzalez trade and Jaso heading down from the Mariners in the three-team Michael Morse deal.

AL West Notes: Angels’ Stadium, Astros, A’s, Mariners

Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Tustin, Calif., officials last week about the possibility of building a new stadium, a team spokesman confirmed today (via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times). The club is attempting to work out a deal for a new Angel Stadium lease with the city of Anaheim, but talks are "at a stalemate," Moreno comments. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has hesitated to accept a proposed deal in which the Angels would spend $150MM to renovate the ballpark but receive a 66-year, $1-per-year lease to develop a 155-acre space in the parking lot, according to DiGiovanna. Marie Garvey, a consultant employed by the Angels, said the club's "preference is to remain in Orange County.Here's the latest out of the AL West:

  • Nolan Ryan's new position with the Astros could lead the club to switch its Triple-A team, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. While the Round Rock Express is currently a Rangers affiliate, Ryan is a co-owner of the team. The Astros' deal with their current affiliate will expire after the 2014 season.
  • Athletics reliever Ryan Cook is on track to be ready for Opening Day after being shut down for several weeks with shoulder inflammation, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Cook appeared in 71 games for the A's in 2013, posting an ERA of 2.54.
  • Fernando Rodney says the Orioles, Mets and Indians all expressed interest before he agreed to terms with the Mariners, according to Jose M. Romero of The Associated Press. The signing reunites Rodney with manager Lloyd McClendon, who served as bullpen coach in Detroit during Rodney's tenure there.

Quick Hits: Fregosi, Trout, Garcia, Mets, Rodney

Keep former big league shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi in your thoughts and prayers tonight. The six-time All-Star suffered multiple strokes while on a cruise and has been taken off life support in a Miami-area hospital, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. As a player, Fregosi played in parts of 18 seasons with the Angels, Rangers, Mets and Pirates, batting a collective .265/.338/.398. He went on to manage the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays over parts of 15 seasons, taking Philadelphia to the World Series in 1993. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Player Personnel for the Braves — a role he has filled for 13 years. Fregosi's larger than life personality has endeared him to teammates, media members and colleagues for decades. We at MLBTR are keeping Fregosi, his family and his many friends in our thoughts tonight and wishing for the best. As you do the same, here are some notes from around the league…

  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines what a potential Mike Trout extension could look like, ultimately concluding that while the end result would be a shocking sum, the Angels would be wise to sign him to a nine-year, $260MM or ten-year, $300MM extension if possible. The longer the team waits, says Cameron, the closer it comes to getting into a free agent bidding war over Trout, which could push his price tag up toward $400MM.
  • Freddy Garcia did not decide to sign with the Braves until the team offered him a March 25 opt-out clause, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, and that clause will create an interesting battle for the team's final two bullpen spots in Spring Training. That Garcia would rather return to his family than pitch at the Triple-A level makes him a favorite to earn a spot on the team if he pitches reasonably well, and he could even temporarily push Alex Wood to the bullpen, writes Bowman.
  • "Impatient is an understatement," Mets third baseman David Wright told Tim Rohan of the New York Times in discussing his desire to be a part of a winning club. However, Wright went on to say that he believes in GM Sandy Alderson's plan. Wright says he'd like to win before he feels like he cannot compete at a high level anymore. Rohan also spoke with Alderson and was told that there are no constraints on the club's payroll, and any lack of spending right now is a philosophical choice.
  • In addition to the two-year, $14MM offer from that Mariners that he accepted, Fernando Rodney had offers from the IndiansMets and Orioles, according to MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom (on Twitter).

Mariners Sign Fernando Rodney

FEBRUARY 13: The deal is official, tweets Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. 

FEBRUARY 6: The Mariners have agreed to a two-year, $14MM deal with reliever Fernando Rodney, reports Jonah Keri of Grantland (via Twitter). Rodney, a client of MVP Sports Group, could earn up to $15MM if he meets the deal's incentives.

Rodney

Soon to turn 37, Rodney established himself as one of the game's most dominant relievers during a 2012 career renaissance in Tampa Bay. Notching 48 saves for the Rays, Rodney threw 74 2/3 innings of 0.60 ERA ball that year, striking out 9.2 per nine while walking just 1.8 per nine. Though he was less dominant last year, Rodney still produced a 3.38 ERA over 66 2/3 innings, upping his strikeouts to a career-best 11.1 K/9 while surrendering 4.9 BB/9 (much closer to his career mark than the year prior). 

As MLBTR's Steve Adams explained in his profile of Rodney at the onset of the off-season, Rodney had shown some of the most overpowering stuff of any of the free agent closers.  Nevertheless, he was the last to sign of the premier bunch, and lands shy of the $18MM that Adams predicted he would get on a two-year pact. He checked in at 32nd on the list of the top fifty free agents, per MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.

Rodney's new deal bests that given by his former club to Grant Balfour (two years and $12MM), but falls short of the two-year, $15.5MM pact awarded Joaquin Benoit by the Padres. Amongst 2014 free agent closers, Joe Nathan (two years, $20MM) and Brian Wilson (two years, $19MM) have received the largest guarantees.

The Mariners were said to be one of the clubs most interested in Rodney, joining the Orioles and Mets in that regard. Though Danny Farquhar remains under team control for six more years after saving 16 games for Seattle last year, he will presumably bump down to a setup role now that Rodney is in the fold. Rodney represents the second-largest free agent commitment made by the Mariners this year, following Robinson Cano's massive ten-year, $240MM deal.

Seattle will hope that it gets the Rodney of the last two seasons rather than the less-than-stellar version of his earlier career. After strong seasons in 2005-06 in Detroit, Rodney posted five straight years in which he allowed over four runs per nine, though he saved 68 games for the Tigers and Angels over that stretch. Both the Steamer and Oliver projection systems like Rodney to produce solid results going forward, with each projecting him to post an ERA and FIP just north of 3.00.

In addition to control, one area to watch is Rodney's performance against left-handed batters. The righty has exhibited fairly minimal career platoon splits, allowing a .641 OPS to same-handed hitters and a .698 mark to lefties. Last year, however, those splits became more pronounced: he limited righties to a .169/.250/.288 line while posting a 3.00 K:BB ratio, but left-handers slashed .248/.363/.353 against Rodney and fared better in terms of true outcomes (1.92 K:BB). (Of course, the third true outcome — home runs — remains one of Rodney's calling cards: he has allowed just 0.32 long balls per nine over the last two years, one of the best rates in the game.)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Free Agent Links: 2015 Starters, Rodney, Marmol, Gourriel

Though plenty of good arms are still free on this year's open market, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs proposes a look ahead at next year's crop of starters. By Cameron's reckoning, the current market price to buy out a free agent year of a top-level starter is between $20MM and $28MM, over a five or six year term. There are two tiers among the five best starters, according to the ZIPS and Steamer projection systems: Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Jon Lester in the first grouping, and Homer Bailey and Justin Masterson, in the second. Of course, several of those hurlers could be locked up by the time the market opens anew next fall. You can find a fully updated list of players set to become free agents next year right here.

Here are some notes on some other free agent situations around the game:

  • The Mariners appear to be "very much in [the] mix" for right-handed reliever Fernando Rodney, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Seattle was recently said to be showing strong interest in Rodney, who stands as the last of the premium late-inning relievers on the open market.
  • Fellow reliever Carlos Marmol is in talks with three teams and could soon reach agreement on a deal, tweets Heyman. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported a month back that the talented-but-turbulent Marmol had been speaking with three clubs and that a big league deal was being discussed.
  • Cuban third baseman Yulieski Gourriel hopes to have a chance to play outside of his native island, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 29-year-old looked to be a major international target after the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but never defected. (Last MLBTR checked in on Gourriel, there were incorrect rumors that he had done so.) Gourriel still has MLB-caliber ability, Pirates international scouting director Rene Gayo tells Sanchez, though his luster has faded somewhat as he has exhibited signs of "playing a little bit bored" in his current setting. Gourriel says he is hoping for Cuban authorities to permit him to play abroad, as was allowed Cuban star Alfredo Despaigne, but was not granted permission when he tried last year.