After six years spent as a mostly mediocre setup man Fernando Rodney picked a perfect season to become a full-time closer and go 37-for-38 converting saves, because now he’s hitting the open market as a free agent with his value at an all-time high.
However, look past the saves and Rodney really wasn’t all that great this season, posting a 4.40 ERA and sub par 61/41 K/BB ratio in 75.2 innings. Those numbers basically match his career totals coming into the year, which included a 4.25 ERA and 253/129 K/BB ratio in 254 frames.
Will blowing just one save in 38 tries make Rodney an “established closer” in the minds of teams looking for bullpen help this offseason? Or will most teams focus on his ability rather than his save totals and see someone who’s probably better suited for seventh-inning duties?
Rodney will be an interesting test case for how big-league front offices value saves and the closer role in general. For his part, the 32-year-old right-hander has made it very clear that he’d like to remain in Detroit:
I want to come back to the Tigers. Detroit is the first team I will talk to, but right now, I have to wait. I want them to call me and ask me to sign. I want three years, maybe four [years], but I don’t know how it will work out.
I’m sure that general manager Dave Dombrowski would be open to re-signing Rodney, but the odds of Detroit handing him a deal for “three years, maybe four” years seems highly unlikely. Dombrowski and the Tigers should know better than anyone that he’s never been a consistently excellent reliever. This season’s save totals are nice, but any team paying Rodney for going 37-for-38 figures to be very disappointed at the end of the contract.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.