Fernando Rodney Rumors
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com hears the Mets aren't considering a reunion with Scott Kazmir. Earlier today, we heard that the Indians don't expect to hang on to the left-hander as he's likely to command a multi-year pact and they're not willing to go beyond one. Here's more from around baseball..
- Royals manager Ned Yost told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter links) that his priorities are starting pitching and second base. Yost also indicated that Carlos Beltran, Brandon Phillips, and Ervin Santana have popped up in discussions.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti is scheduled to talk to agent Dan Lozano about two of his clients, closers Fernando Rodney and Brian Wilson, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. Cleveland is looking into out-of-house closing options after parting ways with Chris Perez.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he's looking to add "400 innings" to the rotation this winter, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he has scouted Masahiro Tanaka extensively and hopes to be in the mix for him, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
- If Carlos Ruiz really has a two-year, $20MM offer on the table, then he probably shouldn't let it sit for too long, opines MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter).
- Nationals assistant GM and VP of player personnel Roy Clark has the club to take a job with the Dodgers, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
When Fernando Rodney signed a one-year, $2MM contract with the Rays that contained a club option for the 2013 season, many were surprised to see him receive a Major League deal. Rodney rebounded from an injury-plagued 2011 season that saw him walk more batters than he struck out to turn in the most dominant season (in terms of ERA) in Major League history in 2012. He'll hit the free agent market as one of the top relief arms available coming off a pair of big seasons in Tampa.
Only one free agent reliever -- Jesse Crain -- posted a higher K/9 than Rodney's 11.1. Rodney whiffed 28.2 percent of the hitters he faced in 2013, a mark that can only be topped by Crain and Joe Nathan. In terms of pure velocity, there's no free agent pitcher among starters or relievers with at least 10 innings pitched that can top Rodney's 96.5 mph average fastball. As such, it's no surprise to see him tied for the second-best swinging-strike rate at 12.5 percent. In other words, Rodney flat out overpowers hitters.
The 2013 campaign marked the fifth consecutive season in which Rodney has posted a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent. His 50.6 clip ranks sixth among right-handed peers on the free agent market.
As noted in the intro, Rodney's 0.60 ERA in 2012 was the lowest ERA in baseball history for a relief pitcher. Predictably, there was some regression in 2013, resulting in a 3.38 ERA. ERA estimators FIP (2.46), xFIP (2.88) and SIERA (2.69) all still love Rodney, though. As a result, Rodney ranks seventh among all qualified relief pitchers from 2012-13 in fWAR at 3.6.
Rodney remains a fastball/change-up pitcher, but the combination has become more effective with age, as he's continually added to his velocity over the past several seasons. While many pitchers see their velocity decline as they get older, there are no such concerns with Rodney.
Dominant as he was, Rodney won't be receiving a qualifying offer from the cost-conscious Rays, so he won't require a draft pick to sign.
While Rodney's strikeout numbers are typically sky-high, so too are his walk totals. Rodney shocked everyone by averaging just 1.8 walks per nine innings in 2012 (5.3 BB%), but his command woes returned in 2013. Rodney has averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings in his career (11.4 BB%), and he averaged 4.9 per nine innings in 2013 (12.4 BB%). This past season was a make-or-break year for his walk rate; had he kept it down, teams may have believed that he'd corrected the issue. As it turns out, 2012's walk rate just looks fluky.
Rodney will turn 37 next March, so while he's increasing his velocity and delivering the best innings of his career, one has to wonder when he will start to show his age. There's plenty of precedent for relievers enjoying success in their late 30s and even into their early 40s, but Rodney lacks the track record of a Joe Nathan or a Mariano Rivera -- two recent examples of such success.
That lack of a track record is what makes evaluating Rodney truly difficult. Heading into 2012, Rodney had a 4.42 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9 over his previous 266 2/3 innings in the Majors. He'd never been able to hold down a closer's gig for more than a year at a time, as evidenced by the fact that he's saved almost as many games in two seasons with the Rays (85) as he had in nine previous seasons combined (87). Which guy is Fernando Rodney? The erratic, often hittable setup man or the dominant relief ace that held opponents to a .186/.266/.259 batting line from 2012-13? That's the question that scouts and GMs will have to answer this winter.
Rodney and his wife, Helen, have four children ranging from eight months old to 12 years old, according to the Rays media guide. As noted by MLB.com's Bill Chastain, Rodney is popular among his teammates, with Joel Peralta among the most vocal about his desire for Rodney to return. Chastain also notes that Jose Lobaton would like to see the closer return as well.
Peralta feels that Rodney would take a discount to remain with the Rays. Peralta says that he and Rodney are like brothers, and that Rodney is beloved in the clubhouse. That thinking directly contradicts a recent report by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Times, who wrote last weekend that Rodney will explore the market.
Rodney's agent, Dan Lozano of the MVP Sports Group, will likely attempt to position his client as the next-best closer on the market after Nathan. They'll have a compelling point, as Rodney's 85 saves in 2012-13 are the most of any free agent, and his 1.91 ERA in that time is topped only by Crain and his balky shoulder. Unfortunately, it looks to be a buyers' market for relief pitchers, as Rodney will be joined by Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Edward Mujica, Jose Veras and the recently released Chris Perez -- each of whom saved at least 21 games this season. And that doesn't even count Brian Wilson, he of 171 career saves, who will be a free agent after re-establishing his value and announcing his health in a late-season cameo with the Dodgers.
Rodney has transformed himself from a 2011-12 afterthought to a Top 50 free agent for the 2013-14 offseason. He's a candidate to secure a multiyear contract, even though competition among closer types will be fierce. As is the case with all relievers on this market, it will behoove Rodney to sign early in the offseason while his options are still plentiful.
I'm comfortable projecting the same two-year, $18MM contract for Rodney that I projected for Balfour earlier in the month. Ultimately, our predictions are going to be off on some of these relievers, as there are just too many closer types competing for a limited amount of jobs. Some will be left standing in January and be forced to settle for one-year deals or eighth-inning roles that won't pay as well. However, with no way of knowing which relievers will come off the board first, I'm sticking to the formula of predicting the maximum dollars they can earn if they sign early in free agency.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
November will bring the eight-year anniversaries of the Rays' hirings of executive vice president Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Times. With Jim Leyland's retirement, Friedman and Maddon are now the longest-tenured GM/manager duo in Major League Baseball. Topkin quotes Friedman: "Joe and I have a tremendous working relationship that has only strengthened over time. I think that the continuity throughout our organization provides at least a little of a competitive advantage." Here's more on the Rays and the rest of the AL East...
- Within that same article, Topkin reports that there aren't likely to be any pre-emptive deals with impending free agents for the Rays. He lists James Loney and Fernando Rodney as two such free agents who would like to explore the free agent market. That goes against what teammate Joel Peralta said about Rodney a few weeks back; Peralta voiced his certainty that Rodney would take a discount to return to the Rays.
- Nolan Reimold hopes to return to the Orioles in 2014, though he realizes that he's not a lock to be tendered a contract, the 30-year-old tells Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Reimold missed the majority of the season once again but says he's significantly further along in his rehab from neck surgery than he was in his injury rehab at this time last season. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $1.2MM salary for Reimold if the O's do indeed tender him.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com wonders how much of an impact Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM extension will have on the pitching market, specifically impending Orioles free agent Scott Feldman.
The Rays' season came to an end last night in a Game 4 loss to the Red Sox in the ALDS, but owner Stu Sternberg, executive VP Andrew Freidman and manager Joe Maddon all considered the team's 92-win season a success, writes MLB.com's Adam Berry. Evan Longoria tells Berry that it's frustrating to have been to the postseason four times and not won the World Series, but he's happy to be a part of a team that's had that opportunity. Joel Peralta voiced his confidence that the Rays' front office will add pieces to better position the team for a deep run in 2014. Here's more on the Rays...
- Peralta told Bill Chastain of MLB.com that he and his teammates would all like the Rays to bring back closer Fernando Rodney. Peralta calls Rodney "one of the best teammates" he's had, noting that the two are like brothers. He feels that Rodney would sacrifice money on the free agent market to return to the Rays for a third season.
- Chastain also writes that Delmon Young, who re-joined the team in August after being released by the Phillies, would like to return to the Rays in 2014 as well. Young cited the Rays' depth of pitching and offensive stars like Longoria and Wil Myers as reasons he'd like to return. He said he's unsure of the team' offseason plans but is looking forward to his first healthy offseason since 2010-11.
The 2013 Yankees don't project to have as much depth as recent New York teams, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. This could make the club vulnerable, though the possibility of a championship still exists given the talent in place. Here are some more notes from the AL East...
- The Red Sox might be interested in Mike Carp, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes (on Twitter). Carp, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners, is a left-handed hitter with a career batting line of .255/.327/.413. The Red Sox have discussed Carp internally without deciding whether to pursue him, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter).
- Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney said he has not had extension talks with the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Rodney, who is set to hit free agency this coming offseason, said he would be open to a new deal with the Rays. He indicated multiple times this winter that he was nearing a deal with the Rays, but said today that his previous comments were mis-interpreted.
- While the Orioles considered trades for offense, they were reluctant to part with arms in potential deals, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. “I'd rather hold on to our young pitchers,'' executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. Though the Orioles didn't make headlines this winter, Heyman notes that Duquette earned the benefit of the doubt with Baltimore's strong showing in 2012.
No one should be surprised if the Yankees engage in a major spending spree during the 2014 offseason, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). The Bombers held off on going after the big free agents this winter as they look to get under the $189MM figure next year for tax purposes, but they'll get a clean slate on their luxury tax history after that point. General Manager Brian Cashman could reload his rotation in 2014 with a free agent class including Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and James Shields. If they want to take that route again the following year, the 2015 class offers David Price, Cliff Lee, Johnny Cueto, and Yovani Gallardo. Here's more from the AL East..
- The Orioles are not expected to sign Arthur Rhodes or Fernando Tatis to minor league deals, a pair of sources tell Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). Yesterday, it was reported that the O's recently worked out both veterans. Rhodes, 43, didn't pitch in 2012 but he's looking to return to baseball this season. Tatis, 38, hasn't played in the majors since 2010.
- Rays closer Fernando Rodney told MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that a new deal with Tampa Bay is right around the corner. "It's in plans already," Rodney said in Spanish. "We've talked a few times, and I expect it to get finalized this month." Earlier today, agent Dan Lozano said that no talks have taken place on a new deal for Rodney but the closer says he's confident that an agreement will be reached.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell is still interviewing candidates for the bullpen coach vacancy and may have a decision early next week, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
The latest from around MLB...
- Rays closer Fernando Rodney continues to express confidence at the Caribbean Series that he'll get a two-year extension finalized, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Agent Dan Lozano recently said no talks have taken place between the Rays and Rodney, who's entering the final year of his contract.
- Though the Brewers wanted to sign Lyle Overbay and Juan Rivera, the free agents went to American League teams in part because NL teams can't offer playing time as a DH, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Free agent reliever Brandon Lyon is still talking to several teams yet nothing is imminent, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). Meister Sports Management represents the right-hander.
- The Reds are monitoring the relief market and could make a deal if the price is low enough, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning (Twitter links). Though the Reds like their bullpen, GM Walt Jocketty acknowledged the team is "looking.'' The Reds have added Manny Parra since Crasnick provided this update, so it's not clear if they'll continue searching for arms.
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The Red Sox and Yankees each added a veteran bat today, as Lyle Overbay agreed to a deal with Boston and Travis Hafner came to terms with the Bronx Bombers. Here are some more items from around the AL East...
- Dan Lozano, Fernando Rodney's agent, said his client was misquoted in a recent interview with Dominican newspaper El Dia, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. El Dia reported on Wednesday that Rodney was close to signing a two-year extension with the Rays but Lozano said that no talks have taken place between the two sides. Rodney is set to make $2.5MM in 2013, his last year under contract with Tampa Bay.
- The Orioles are looking to add relief pitching and "are keeping tabs on some relievers that have yet to sign," The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly reports.
- Also from Connolly, he hears the Orioles would be interested in Kyle Lohse if the veteran's price significantly dropped. It may be a longshot, as Connolly says the O's don't want to lose the first-round draft pick it would take to sign Lohse and even if Lohse was open to a one-year contract, he likely wouldn't sign such a deal in the AL East.
- ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand fields several Alex Rodriguez questions in an online fan chat, as well as other Yankees topics like Curtis Granderson trade talk and Robinson Cano's future in the Bronx.
- The Blue Jays aren't likely to make any more additions this offseason aside from minor league depth signings, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm as part of a reader mailbag.
- An AL East talent evaluator breaks down the division's teams with ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes.
Let's take a quick look around the league for a few of the morning's odds and ends out of Nashville....
- Giancarlo Stanton remains unhappy with the direction of the Marlins, agent Joel Wolfe tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). "It wasn't a reaction," Wolfe said, referring to Stanton's post-trade tweet last month. "It's a state of mind." Wolfe declined comment when asked if Stanton has requested a trade, according to Heyman (Twitter link).
- The Orioles may have some interest in Garrett Jones and could dangle pitching in trade talks with the Pirates, says Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel adds within the same blog post that at least two American League teams weren't interested when the Pirates came to them to discuss Joel Hanrahan. According to Biertempfel, there are some concerns about Hanrahan's physical conditioning and his late-season performance in 2012.
- The Indians had been "seriously interested" in James Loney before he signed with the Rays, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- Fernando Rodney, who will be a free agent next winter, has switched agents, leaving ACES and hiring Dan Lozano, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
- The Royals' interest in Brett Myers is at the "kicking the tires" stage, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- With a plethora of catchers in the mix, the Red Sox will field offers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman.
Both Molina ($1.8MM) and Shields ($10.25MM) were expected to have their options picked up. The 35-year-old Rodney pitched to a 0.60 ERA with 48 saves this year, so his $2.5MM option was a no-brainer. Scott, 34, hit .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and will receive a $1MM buyout rather than a $6MM salary.