With Game 6 of the World Series set to be played on Tuesday, the trade rumor machine is starting to pick up speed. On Monday, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that several players with club options are supposedly on the trading block as their current teams might be looking to deal them before they would have to decide whether or not to pick up these options. One name of interest is former Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney, whom the Marlins currently hold a $4.5 million club option on for 2017.
The 39-year-old former Tigers closer-turned-journeyman-ninth-inning-archer had a wildly up and down 2016 season. He began the year as the Padres’ closer and posted an absurd 0.31 ERA in 28 2⁄3 innings, along with an excellent 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and typical (for Rodney) 3.8 walks per nine.
After Rodney was traded to the playoff-hungry Miami Marlins, things took a nosedive. While his strikeouts remained high at 10.1 per nine innings, he saw his walks jump to an Alberquerquian 6.1 per nine innings. Worse yet, Rodney gave up over 10 hits per nine along with five home runs, which caused his ERA to skyrocket to 5.89 in 36 2⁄3 innings. Given his epic collapse after switching coasts, its no surprise to see that the Marlins have no interest in exercising his option and are looking to move him at what could be a very minimal cost.
Trading for the veteran closer would be an interesting move for the Tigers. His $4.5 million option is cheaper than current closer Fransisco Rodriguez’s $6 million club option. Given that the Tigers would have to pay a $2 million buyout to let Rodriguez walk as a free agent, they could save a bit of cash by trading for Rodney, then picking up the option on Rodriguez and trading him later in the winter. Rodriguez is younger and arguable better than Rodney, so the Tigers could conceivably save $1.5 million and then trade Rodriguez for a better-caliber prospect than they would likely give up for Rodney. This could potentially leave the Tigers with a slightly cheaper veteran closer to hold down the ninth to start the year before turning closing duties over to a younger arm like Bruce Rondon who pitched brilliantly down the stretch for the Tigers this past year. The Tigers could also acquire Rodney for depth without ditching another reliever, but that adds another $4.5 million to a payroll they are trying to lighten.
This seems like a bit of a long shot scenario, though. While it would be a payroll-slashing-type move, the savings are pretty minimal, and the Tigers would be pinning their hopes on Rodney not completely falling apart like other past 40-year-old veteran closers (*cough* Joe Nathan *cough*) have done, as well as the young Rondon being ready to take the closing role he was supposed to be groomed for in 2013. Overall, the move is too complicated and risky to pass the smell test.