The Braves and Pirates completed a last-minute deal sending closer Richard Rodriguez from Pittsburgh to Atlanta, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (via Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds that righties Bryse Wilson and Ricky DeVito are headed to Pittsburgh in return for Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, 31, is under team control through 2023. He currently sports a 2.82 ERA, 22.8 K%, 3.4 BB%, and 29.2% groundball rate. Rodriguez’s only standout ability this year has been avoiding walks, and with so few groundballs he may 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. Rodriguez’s ERA stood at 0.45 on May 25th, but since then in 18 games he’s managed a 5.40 ERA.
Still, the Braves have added a solid, controllable setup man to their bullpen behind closer Will Smith. This month Smith has gotten the highest-leverage work for Atlanta, followed by A.J. Minter and Chris Martin. The Braves are four games out in the NL East, sitting one game below .500 at present. This still leaves the club with a 9.7% chance at the playoffs, according to FanGraphs, and Braves President, Baseball Operations & General Manager Alex Anthopoulos chose to go into buying mode. Aside from Rodriguez, Anthopoulos has essentially assembled a brand new outfield with Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Jorge Soler.
In Wilson, the Pirates snagged a 23-year-old righty with 14 career big league starts to his name. Drafted in the fourth round out of high school back in 2016, Baseball America gave Wilson a 50 grade before the season. BA wrote, “Wilson profiles as a back-of-the-rotation workhorse type who will throw strikes and compete.” The Braves had optioned Wilson to Triple-A on Tuesday, but GM Ben Cherington said he should be in Pittsburgh and active tomorrow.
DeVito, a 21-year-old righty, has a 2.66 ERA this year in five High-A starts. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kevin Goldstein gave him a 40 grade before the season, noting that “if Devito’s pitch-quality improves a little bit he has a strong chance to be a three-pitch reliever.”