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.