17-year MLB veteran Fernando Rodney last pitched in the majors during Game 4 of the 2019 World Series, but The Athletic’s Sam Blum reports that the soon to be 47-year-old right-hander continues to pitch in hopes of making it back to the major leagues before he calls it a career.
Rodney has suited up for eleven different clubs in the majors since he debuted with the Tigers back in 2002, compiling a career 3.80 ERA and 3.77 FIP in 951 big league appearances. During that time, he’s gone 48-71 with 327 saves, good for the 18th most in MLB history. He’s perhaps best known for his otherwordly 2012 campaign with the Rays where he pitched to a microscopic 0.60 ERA in 74 2/3 innings. That was good for an unbelievable 614 ERA+ as Rodney earned the first All Star appearance of his career, a fifth-place finish in AL Cy Young award voting, and a top-13 finish in AL MVP voting.
That strong performance kicked off a seven-year stretch where Rodney generally pitched to above average results out of the bullpen, with a 3.14 ERA and 3.34 FIP, though the flashes of his 2012 brilliance came littered with stretches of struggles such as his 39-game stint in Miami where he struggled to a 5.89 ERA in 36 2/3 innings of work. Despite those occasional struggles, Rodney’s stretches of dominance earned him roles in bullpens all across the league until the shortened 2020 season arrived.
While Rodney landed with the Astros on a minor league deal that season, he ultimately was cut from the club without ever suiting up for the team. While that was his last role in affiliated ball, the veteran righty has continued his career in independent leagues around North America in the years since, pitching to a 3.70 ERA in 155 2/3 innings of work over the past four seasons with a 25.5% strikeout rate during that time. Blum notes that even minor league offers from MLB organizations have dried up as Rodney has entered his mid-forties, though it remains at least conceivable that a club could look to bring the veteran hurler into camp on a minor league deal to serve as a mentor for young pitchers in camp while allowing the righty to try and prove himself capable of returning to the majors.
More free agent notes from around the league…
- Rodney isn’t the only former closer hoping to re-establish himself in the majors, as Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that right-hander Ken Giles is scheduled to throw a bullpen for interested teams this coming Friday. Giles was among the better relievers in the game for a six-year stretch from 2014 to 2019 but has thrown just 44 total innings (8 in the majors) since the start of the 2020 season. While the 33-year-old’s lengthy layoff due to injuries in recent years leaves plenty of question marks in his profile, Heyman adds that Giles is “said to be healthy.” If he can prove he’s still able to pitch competitively at a high level, teams would surely have interest in adding a veteran with a career 2.71 ERA and 2.46 FIP to their bullpen mix this spring, though he’d almost assuredly be limited to minor league offers.
- Also coming off a lost season in hopes of re-establishing himself in the majors is right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez, as a report from Francys Romero indicates the righty hosted a private workout for interested teams in Miami yesterday. Earlier this offseason, reporting from Romero indicated that several clubs had expressed interest in Gutierrez after the Reds outrighted him to the minors back in October, allowing him to elect minor league free agency. The 28-year-old pitched just 43 innings over the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery but pitched fairly well over 22 starts during the 2021 season with a 4.74 ERA in 114 innings of work. Gutierrez could be among the more interesting depth options available on the starting pitching market due to his relative youth and the fact that he has options remaining.