The A’s are among the teams to show interest in Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Rodriguez was previously linked to the Blue Jays. Surely, other teams have checked in as well. The bullpen is a deadline priority for Oakland, according to Morosi.
Since the beginning of June, five contenders sport bullpens with an ERA north of 4.50: the Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, Phillies, and Mets. The Phillies, Yankees, Brewers, A’s, and Mariners each have at least nine blown saves during that time. There are 14 clubs with at least a 10% chance at the playoffs at present, and even those with good bullpens will likely look to supplement at the deadline.
Rodriguez stands a good chance of being traded, with the Pirates still in a prospect-accumulation phase – as evidenced by yesterday’s Adam Frazier trade. The 31-year-old Rodriguez, who’s under team control through 2023, currently owns a 2.82 ERA, 22.8 K%, 3.4 BB%, and 29.2% groundball rate. The average MLB reliever currently sits at 24.5%, 10.0%, and 43.5% in those areas. So Rodriguez’s only standout ability this year has been avoiding walks, and with so few groundballs he may soon return to his homer-prone ways. Nor does Rodriguez throw particularly hard for a reliever in 2021, averaging 93.2 miles per hour on his fastball. The magic is already wearing off — Rodriguez’s ERA stood at 0.45 on May 25th, but since then in 18 games he’s managed a 5.40 ERA.
Still, not every team is willing to shop in the Craig Kimbrel aisle, and Rodriguez remains a useful reliever earning just $1.7MM on the season. The A’s already tried going big on their bullpen, committing $11MM to Trevor Rosenthal in February only to see him miss the entire season with a torn labrum in his hip.
This month, the A’s have been relying on a quintet of relievers in important situations: Lou Trivino, Jake Diekman, J.B. Wendelken, Sergio Romo, and Yusmeiro Petit. The leaders of the group have been particularly plagued by the free pass, with Trivino and Diekman each hovering in the 18% range for walk rate this month. So Rodriguez could be an antidote of sorts, though the A’s could also turn to Raisel Iglesias, Taylor Rogers, Richard Bleier, Michael Fulmer, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson for potentially available relievers with low walk rates.