Free agent left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been at the Winter Meetings in Nashville this week, where he’s held sitdowns with multiple interested clubs. It seems that slate of meetings will soon produce a deal, as Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Rodriguez has narrowed his possibilities to two teams and will decide between that pair of offers by tomorrow.
Beyond the fact that he’s known to have been in Nashville to meet with clubs, it’s been a relatively quiet offseason on the Rodriguez front. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported last month that any geographic preferences that may have been in place at the trade deadline are now out the window, as the left-hander has expressed an openness to pitching anywhere.
Logically speaking, teams that are deep into pursuits of Shohei Ohtani and/or Yoshinobu Yamamoto might not want to make a commitment of this size before either of those names comes off the board. That’s largely speculative, to be clear, although SNY’s Andy Martino reported this morning that the Mets haven’t even shown interest in Rodriguez at or prior to the Winter Meetings — largely for that specific reason; they’ve been focused squarely on Yamamoto to this point. That certainly seems to take them out of play as one of the two apparent finalists.
Rodriguez, 31 in April, opted out of the final three years and $49MM on his contract with the Tigers at the beginning of the offseason. There’s been no indication that a return is off the table, even after Detroit’s signing of veteran righty Kenta Maeda to a two-year contract. Tigers president of baseball ops Scott Harris was clear after that agreement that the Tigers remain in the market for starting pitching. Whether that includes putting forth a lengthier and larger commitment than the one from which Rodriguez just opted out isn’t clear, although it bears mentioning that Rodriguez was signed by Harris’ predecessor, Al Avila, and not the current Detroit front office regime.
The 2023 season was the second of a five-year, $77MM deal that had mixed results. Rodriguez was away from the Tigers for an extended period during year one of the contract, citing a marital issue, and posted a 4.05 ERA with diminished strikeout numbers when on the field. He bounced back early in 2023 and was one of the American League’s best pitchers for much of the first half. From April 12 through May 28, Rodriguez rattled off nine starts (57 1/3 innings) with a 1.40 ERA, 27.7% strikeout rate and 5.5% walk rate.
A ruptured pulley tendon in his pitching hand sent Rodriguez to the injured list from late May through early July, and he wasn’t as sharp upon his return. The lefty improved as the summer wore on, but his 4.24 ERA in 85 innings post-injury list was decidedly less intriguing than his pre-injury output.
Overall, Rodriguez still finished out the season with 152 2/3 innings of 3.30 ERA ball, adding in a 23% strikeout rate, 7.7% walk rate, 41% ground-ball rate and 0.88 HR/9. MLBTR ranked Rodriguez 11th on our annual Top 50 free agent rankings and predicted a four-year, $82MM deal for the veteran southpaw.