The Tigers announced today that they’ve exercised their $6MM club option on closer Francisco Rodriguez. That option came with a $2MM buyout, effectively making this a $4MM decision for the Tigers.
Rodriguez, 35 in January, enjoyed a strong first year with the Tigers in 2016 after being acquired from the Brewers in exchange for minor league infielder Javier Betancourt. The active saves leader (430 in his career), Rodriguez picked up 44 saves in the Motor City and pitched to a 3.24 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 to go along with a career-best 54.7 ground-ball rate in 58 1/3 innings.
The Tigers were faced with two option decisions this offseason and elected to pick up their option on K-Rod while trading center fielder Cameron Maybin to the Angels in exchange for minor league righty Victor Alcantara. That would appear to be the first step in GM Al Avila’s stated goal of getting younger while scaling back the team’s payroll. However, while Rodriguez looks to be in the fold next season for now, there’s no guarantee that he won’t be shopped around later this winter.
If K-Rod is indeed back with the Tigers, he’ll join hard-throwing setup man Bruce Rondon in the bullpen along with lefty Justin Wilson and right-hander Alex Wilson. The Tigers also possess one of the game’s more intriguing bullpen prospects in minor league strikeout machine Joe Jimenez, giving the team the foundation for a potentially strong bullpen next season. (Alcantara, acquired in the Maybin deal, could potentially factor into that mix at some point as well.)