The Tigers are going to go with Bruce Rondon as their closer

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Many of you are saying “who is Bruce Rondon?”  The most relevant answer to that question for you is that he’s the reason why the Tigers aren’t, according to Danny Knobler, going to be players for Rafael Soriano or any other established closer types:

 

Hard-throwing is right. He’s a big old hoss of a dude who strikes out a lot of guys. He pitched at three different levels last year, striking out 66 in 53 innings. He walks a fair number of guys, but he’s trending in a better direction with that.

A poor-man’s Craig Kimbrel?  The comp is crazy on the surface due to Kimbrel’s dominance in the bigs, but there were questions about calling him up and handing him a job too due to concerns about his control.  Rondon doesn’t strike out nearly as many guys per nine as Kimbrel did in the minors, thus the “poor-man’s” part of it, but Kimbrel walked more dudes.

The point, though, isn’t that Rondon be anything close to Kimbrel. The point is that he’s cheap and team controlled and is likely to be way better than Jose Valverde, and if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that going big on free agent closers is a sucker’s game.  If I’m Detroit I hand Rondon the ball to see if he can do it. If that doesn’t work, try something else. They won the pennant with Valverde basically on the bench, so they can make it through a couple months of the season that way too.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.