On Monday, the Detroit Tigers struck early once again. They inked long-time Boston Red Sox lefty, Eduardo Rodriguez, to a five-year deal worth $77 million, with incentives that could take the full value of the contract to $80 million. The 28-year-old has had several very good seasons already in his career, and rebounded from a nasty health scare in 2020 to post another good season in 2021.
The signing seems to split the difference between much more expensive long-term options, and the sort of high-risk, high-reward short-term acquisition represented by someone like former Chicago White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon or Tigers’ legend Justin Verlander. The Tigers don’t need to do a lot more beyond resolving the shortstop position to be in good shape in 2022, but the fact that they pounced on Rodriguez and catcher Tucker Barnhart early on, means that they can focus all their energy on upgrading shortstop, and then comfortably sift through the bargain bin for more pitching depth once the new collective bargaining agreement is locked in this winter—here’s hoping that’s what happens.
So today we ask our staff for their reaction to the Eduardo Rodriguez deal now that we’ve all had a few days to consider.
How do you feel about the Eduardo Rodriguez deal?
Rob Rogacki: This is exactly the type of move I was hoping the Tigers would make this offseason. They have a stable of solid young arms in the pipeline, but needed to add more than just a low-cost veteran signing or two. Rodriguez is a capable mid-rotation starter that might get a little better now that he’s out of the AL East. Better yet, his peripherals are better than the last pitcher the Tigers signed to a five-year deal. And with how the pitching market seems to be shaping up early on this offseason, we may even look back and think that Avila got a bit of a bargain by working so quickly.
Now go sign Correa.
Ashley MacLennan: I’m mostly excited by it because a five-year deal shows that the Tigers are now planning to be competitive, they’re willing to spend money around a core of strong players, and they’re not putting all their eggs in the prospect basket. Rodriguez is a good get. He’s not going to run out and win a Cy Young next year (this is always something I’m happy to be proven wrong on), but he’s definitely going to be a capable starter in the AL Central, and I’m glad the Tigers look to be locking players down early. And yeah, like Rob said: now go get Correa.
Kyle Yost: In today’s world of hot takes and false rumors, sometimes it’s nice to have the expected thing actually happen. The Tigers were never going to get a top-tier starter, but seeing the front office go out and not only grab one of the best options in the next tier, but do so quickly, is a great sign of things to come. Rodriguez is not going to blow anyone away and he might have some frustrating moments, but this was a reasonable contract and saves Detroit from plugging 40 percent of the rotation with low-upside darts. Good move all around.
Zane Harding: 5/77 is great value for a veteran with strong underlying metrics, and if he opts out, hey, he was a rousing success. I love the move.
Adam Dubbin: I’m encouraged by the signing simply because it represents a step out of the bargain-bin section of free agency. The deal seems fair to both sides and gives the Tigers the ability to move on from Matt Boyd if they want to, while giving the fanbase something to cheer about early on in the offseason.
Brandon Day: I’m pretty darned pleased, personally. At his best he’s been very good, and considering his 2020, it seems like a good bet that he’ll be stronger going forward. Younger than Stroman or Gausman, who I also would’ve liked. He’s got pretty funky stuff and Fetter and Nieves should have a good time working with him. Lot of reason to think he was pretty unlucky on balls in play last year. Very reasonable price and nice to see them get after it early so they don’t have to chase anyone. Maybe they’ll shock us and sign JV, but probably they can just lay back and fill out the pitching staff with an eye for bargains.
Cameron Kaiser: Eduardo Rodriguez was someone I wasn’t super high on going into the offseason, but diving into his underlying numbers has me excited. He doesn’t walk many and he eats innings, something this young staff is desperate for. With a hopefully improved infield defense, Rodriguez’s ERA should go down as well. While he’s not going to be an ace, he’s going to be dependable and represents a new era of Tigers baseball where we (gasp) spend money on good players! Hopefully the days of shopping in the bargain section are over, and this Rodriguez signing goes a long way in proving that.
Brady McAtamney: I feel excellent about it. Like others have said, the 5-year deal shows that they’re willing to finally put the pedal to the metal. It also indicates that they’re looking more at advanced stats than just ERA and whatnot. He’s a lot better than his numbers suggest, and with an exit from the AL East and work with Fetter, he could absolutely be a staple in the rotation. It also gives them a clear window to (sadly) move on from Boyd and non-tender him to save from his big salary for someone who might not even play this season.
Les Lim: Not to be a downer here, but I’m going to be hugely disappointed if we spend the next 2-5 years calling this guy E-Rod.
Brandon: Les is now in charge of developing a better nickname.
Les: Where’s Wardo? You do not want me in charge of this.
Brandon: Big n’ Filthy? Yeah I don’t want me in charge of this either. We’ll have to get to know him a bit.
Grade the acquisition of Eduardo Rodriguez