Entering the winter, the Detroit Tigers had a need for offense, with a particular interest in the stacked free-agent shortstop class.
But before adding runs, the Tigers are also investing heavily in their ability to prevent them. They’ve reportedly struck the winter’s first major signing by landing former Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract. Tigers beat writer Cody Stavenhagen first reported the signing, with Jeff Passan and others coming in with the financial figures.
After missing all of 2020 due to myocarditis stemming from COVID-19, Rodriguez returned with a disappointing season in terms of run prevention. He posted a 4.74 ERA, nearly one full run up from the stellar work of his previous two seasons, when he went 32-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 333 innings for Boston.
Yet he also posted the lowest FIP of his career (3.32), and he fared well in the more granular approaches to estimated effectiveness.
His career-high strikeout percentage (27.4) and career-low walk rate (7.0) were undermined by a surge in BABIP (.363), which led to one of baseball’s worst strand rates (68.9 percent, on par with Dallas Keuchel).
The Tigers are betting on the stats that tend to be more sustainable, and doing so with the youngest established starter on the market, as Rodriguez won’t turn 29 until April. He also provides some veteran ballast for a young Tigers rotation that is on the verge of coalescing, but now can better absorb a temporary setback on an individual level.
Barring other major additions, A.J. Hinch can consider his front three set:
Matt Manning looks like the best bet for the fourth spot despite a rocky rookie season, as Detroit’s other most notable names dealt with significant injuries. Matthew Boyd is a non-tender candidate after undergoing a September surgery on his flexor tendon, Spencer Turnbull had Tommy John surgery back in June, and Alex Faedo missed all of the 2021 season due to his own UCL repair.
For what its worth, Rodriguez has fared well against the White Sox — 30 innings, 23 hits, nine walks, 34 strikeouts, a 3.60 ERA — but we’re talking about five starts over six seasons.
What we’re looking at is a bold first move for a Detroit team with a fairly light payroll even with Miguel Cabrera’s $32 million salary at the top of the ledger. Tucker Barnhart’s $7.75 million salary was the next largest figure on the books until today, or whenever this contract becomes official. Even after accounting for Rodriguez’s initial earnings, the Tigers still won’t have $100 committed to next year’s team just yet. There’s room for future moves, and we’ll see if Detroit’s aggression inspires the White Sox to secure their own footing.
(Photo by Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)
Good pick up for the Tigers. He does have an opt out after year 2 of his contract which I likely think ends up being triggered. If he stays at his current pace, he’d be able coup more than the remaining 3 years of his contract at age 31.
It’s backloaded, so he might have to think about it.
I mean, the whole point of the opt-out is that not even Eduardo knows what the future holds. I’d be more concerned about his health than his performance personally.
I was hoping the Sox would sign him.
Off topic, but there’s a good article in the Athletic today about Kenny Williams speaking out at the GM meetings about the lack of non-white representation in front offices. Link for subscribers: https://theathletic.com/2956711/2021/11/15/at-gm-meetings-white-soxs-ken-williams-expresses-frustration-disappointment-with-mlbs-lack-of-progress-in-front-office-diversity/
This is probably a good fit for the Tigers roster, but I can’t help feeling happy about a direct White Sox competitor spending on an average-ish left-handed pitcher
Seems like number 3 starter money for a good number 3 starter.
This is a good sign by the Tigers, and it could be good news for the White Sox. Yes complacency could hurt the White Sox, and seeing rivals getting better should incentivize Hahn to get better too.
This is step one toward realizing the goal of second place.
Hahn always wants to improve. The Tigers signing will not change the budget given by JR.
He could have fooled me.
Hahn always wants to improve, other teams do it.
Can Sox Machine do the Detroit Tigers Offseason Plan Project? It seems more fun.
I suggested on Twitter a few days ago that if the Tigers were willing to spend $100m+ this offseason, they could easily give the White Sox a run for their money in the division, even with Miggy’s contract weighing them down. I didn’t expect them to sign Rodriguez, but figured Marte, Castellanos, and Seager all could realistically fit into their budget. If they intend to sign Correa and still go after an outfielder or two, they’re gonna have one scary lineup in addition to a strong starting rotation that’s just lacking a proven ace starter (though Mize has that upside).
Good for them if true. I know this had been speculated about. I hope Jerry feels the heat.
Could help us in two ways
Weakens the Astros and possibly forces Jerry to make a move
If you click through to his twitter, it looks appears his MLB Insider is a (possibly photoshopped) emoji in Carlos Correa’s twitter bio.
Yeah, the tiger emoji isn’t there now if it once was
Meh, who cares? We kill lefties, plus even if he performs well I don’t see how the Sox winning the division on cruise control helped them in the playoffs this year.
What we need to focus on is getting better at RF and 2B. If the rest of our division is improving even a little, we need to make sure our lineup has tough outs 1-9.
I’m very jealous of the tigers making quick moves. It was so much fun when Hahn stunned the market by swooping in and getting Grandal. Sox are still significantly ahead of Detroit but it would be nice to see something nice happen soon.
Too lazy to do a plan, but collecting old Sox could round off the team pretty darn nicely: sign Escobar, Garcia and Hudson. Trade for Bassitt. Only the trade would cost a lot in young capital which can hopefully be recouped by trading Kimbrel. Shouldn’t be too expensive, all told. Of course Semien would be even more fun – but seems unlikely
Yes, it was so much fun last year when Hahn swooped in and quickly signed Adam Eaton.
Nice pickup for the Tigers. That Opt out can bite them in the ass though.
How? The contract is so heavily backloaded that Rodriguez would have to pitch to the 80th percentile of his talent to justify the 3/49 remaining on it after two seasons. If he pitches well enough to feel confident he can beat that on the open market, that’s a coup for the Tigers because they’ll have gotten two pretty damn good seasons out of him for $28m, which is a bargain.
How is 2/28 a bargain (14 million) but 3/49 (16.3 Mil) heavily backloaded and requires him to pitch to the 80th percentile of his talent?
If Rodriguez pitches well, they’ll lose a good starter just as they’re entering their contention window. If he pitches poorly, they’re stuck with him for three more years. Player opt-outs almost never turn out good for the team that offers them.
It’s true that a player opt-out is a player benefit, but it’s overblown how bad it is for the team. Think of it like this: if they had to decide now, the Tigers would almost certainly prefer that ERod opt-out in two years. Not only are these two years cheaper, but they get him for his age 29 and 30 season without the risk of the age 31-33 seasons. If he opts-out, the Tigers may have wished he wouldn’t have, but they’ll have just gotten (presumably) two excellent years at a below market rate without the risk of him taking an aging hit or injury.
Also, the Tigers will not be entering their contention window in two years. They are entering it now.
In 2021, they went 68-61 after May 8th. Greene and Torkelson will be up in late April. They’ve got loads of pitching talent. They’re already addressing needs. And many think they’ll sign one of the big SS. If they keep spending and bring that payroll up to where the Sox are, they’ll likely be in the mix for preseason AL Central favorites with the Sox.
No, they’re not entering their contention window now. Their infield is lacking outside Candelario. Their outfield is barren (No, Akil Badoo is not a superstar OF) and their pitching rotation is unproven with poor peripherals. Green and Torkelson will help but I don’t know who else in the farm system is gonna help the major league team.
They also have a losing record against every other ALC team.
Paying really no one not named Miguel Cabrera any money in ’21, they played above .500 baseball for 5 months. You cite their losing record against the ALC, but I can cite their winning record (39-36) against .500 or better teams—besting the White Sox in that department. As for help from the farm, they have seven players that FG ranks 40+ FV or higher and an ETA of ’21/’22. For reference, the White Sox have two.
To be clear, I’m not saying I like their chances to usurp the Sox. And they do currently have holes to fill. But cheap, talented, internal help is on the way and they look to be spending big this offseason. If they add a player like Correa and patch a few more holes via FA, they absolutely have flipped the switch to contending.
Youre right. We should trade everyone and rebuild again.
Literally, a direct quote from this post:
They have almost nothing on the books and a willingness to spend. They’re absolutely able to contend now if they can land the right players, never mind sufficient talent in the minors to use in trades to bolster their odds in the here and now. Whether or not they will is open to debate, but they can absolutely put themselves firmly in the conversation beyond being a fringe contender for the division.
If Rodriguez pitches well enough to justify opting out, they’ll have gotten a really good starter for $14 million a year for two years. Sure, taking the opt-out means they lose a good starting pitcher, but that doesn’t change that they had a really good pitcher at a great price for two seasons, never mind they’ll probably extend him a QO and get a compensation pick if/when he signs elsewhere (assuming that’s still a thing by then). The only way this doesn’t work for the Tigers is if he’s just flat-out bad and not worth the money.