Considering the Twins are out of playoff contention and soon-to-be 42-year-old closer Fernando Rodney isn’t signed for guaranteed money past this season, he may be a logical August trade candidate. However, the Twins are interested in picking up Rodney’s option for 2019, according to the Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal III, who writes that the team would only move him this month for “a very nice offer.”
Rodney is due another $1.3MM this year, which is an affordable figure, as Neal notes. Contenders in the market for relief help (perhaps including the Red Sox, who showed interest in Rodney last month) may claim him if he ends up on trade waivers, then, though the Twins aren’t in a position where they have to jettison the veteran. Rather, the Twins could retain Rodney this year and exercise their $4.25MM option over the right-hander in the offseason, as opposed to buying him out for $250K, and either keep him for next season or shop him over the winter.
When the Twins signed Rodney to a $4.5MM guarantee last December, they were coming off a playoff-bound campaign and had designs on another postseason trip in 2018. Eight months later, Minnesota has stumbled to a 50-58 record and a nine-game deficit in the AL Central, though its struggles haven’t exactly been Rodney’s fault. For the most part, Rodney has made good on his deal by pitching to a 3.24 ERA/3.91 FIP with 10.15 K/9, 3.89 BB/9 and a 44 percent groundball rate in 41 2/3 innings. Never the most trustworthy game-ending option, Rodney has saved 23 of 29 opportunities this year, giving the journeyman a 79 percent success rate that slightly trails his career mark (82 percent, 323 saves on 395 tries).
Should the Twins bring the hard-throwing Rodney back in 2019, it would give them one fewer area to address in the offseason. The Twins’ bullpen may nonetheless be a focal point for chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine, though, given that the unit has posted the majors’ seventh-worst ERA in 2018. Minnesota’s relief corps has fared much better in terms of K/BB ratio (fifth) and fWAR (18th), though Ryan Pressly and Zach Duke played a role in that, and the team traded both hurlers prior to the non-waiver deadline on Tuesday. Thanks in part to those moves, Rodney clearly ranks as one of the best relievers who’s on track to return for the Twins next season.