Thursday night the Tigers announced that they have picked up the option on closer Francisco Rodriguez. In his first season with the Tigers, K-Rod stabilized the back end of the bullpen with a 3.24 ERA to go along with 44 saves in 58.1 innings. Last year, he posted his 400th career save, and now sits in fourth place for the most saves in baseball history with 430. Rodriguez will make $6 million in 2017 with Detroit.
K-Rod was acquired last offseason in exchange for minor league infielder Javier Betancourt, a small price to pay for a reliever coming off a year where he posted a 2.91 FIP and 5.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With the Tigers, Rodriguez, who is 34-years-old, regressed quite a bit, with his FIP rising to 3.83 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio falling to 2.48, but was still a much better closer than what the Tigers have had in the last few years.
Rodriguez used to be a high-octane closer in his younger days, but now relies on multiple variations of his change-up to have success. Rarely getting above 90 MPH with his fastball, Frankie is notorious for making hitters look silly with his blend of off-speed pitches. When in full command, he can be as hard to hit as anyone in baseball. However, he severely slowed down in the second half of last season, posting a 4.74 FIP after the All Star break.
While K-Rod is slated to come back as of this writing, there’s still a good chance he gets traded before the start of the season. With the Tigers trading away Cameron Maybin earlier Thursday night, and general manager Al Avila stating that they will be cutting payroll, moving Rodriguez’s salary will be enticing. Plus, depending on how much payroll the Tigers end up cutting, a team outside of contention won’t have much use for an aging closer.