In addition to their one-year, $18.4MM qualifying offer to Eduardo Rodriguez, the Red Sox have also made a multi-year contract offer to the free-agent lefty, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said earlier this week that there was mutual interest in a longer-term deal between the two parties (via Alex Speier of the Boston Globe).
Proposed terms aren’t clear at this point, but the fact that the Sox are trying to retain Rodriguez on a multi-year pact is nevertheless of some note. We’ve seen players accept a qualifying offer and still work out a subsequent extension in the past — Jose Abreu and the White Sox, for instance — but interest in Rodriguez figures to be robust. The fact that the Sox are looking at multi-year arrangements is at least a sign of a healthy market. Rodriguez has already been loosely linked to the Angels, and MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets this morning that the Tigers have showed some “early interest” as well.
The 28-year-old Rodriguez was viewed by some as a surprise recipient of the qualifying offer on the heels of a 4.74 ERA this season. Beyond that mark, however, everything in the lefty’s profile looks quite appealing. Rodrgiuez posted career-best marks in strikeout rate (27.4%) and walk rate (7.0%) while effectively tying career-best marks in swinging-strike rate (11.7%), called-strike rate (16.4%) and opponents’ chase rate (33.7%).
Rodriguez was also among the very best in baseball in terms of limiting hard contact (90th percentile average exit velocity, 87th percentile hard-hit rate) and finished the season on a rather strong note. The lefty posted a 3.71 ERA and 2.89 FIP following the All-Star break, including a 2.11 ERA in his final four starts of the season. Rodriguez was pulled early in his Game 1 ALDS date with the Rays after allowing a pair of runs in 1 2/3 innings, but he came back strong in his next two starts, allowing just eight hits and punching out 13 with no walks over the course of 11 innings. In all, over Rodriguez’s past three healthy regular seasons, he carries a 4.11 ERA, 3.63 FIP and 3.95 SIERA in just shy of 500 innings.
“Healthy” seasons is a key distinction, of course. The 2020 season was completely lost for Rodriguez when he developed myocarditis in the wake of a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. Rodriguez detailed the ordeal to James Wagner of the New York Times back in May, explaining that he couldn’t even get through 10 pitches in a bullpen session at one point before debilitating exhaustion overtook him. He was eventually barred from virtually any physical activity for three months, with even minor tasks like walking his dog and going to the supermarket off the table.
Given that context, it’s somewhat remarkable that Rodriguez was able to make it back for a full slate of 32 games in 2021 (including a lone, one-inning relief stint late in his final appearance). He tallied 157 2/3 innings during the regular season and tacked on another 12 2/3 in the postseason for a total of 35 games pitched. The Sox were seemingly mindful of his per-start workload, as he averaged just north of five frames per outing — a far cry from the six innings he averaged in 2019. Still, the overall workload is quite encouraging, given where Rodriguez was a year ago at this time.
All of that will be weighed by teams as they determine how aggressively to pursue Rodriguez, as will the fact that he’s tied to draft compensation by virtue of that aforementioned qualifying offer. Rodriguez has until Nov. 17 to determine whether to accept or reject that one-year, $18.4MM offer.