The Nationals have signed free agent reliever Fernando Rodney to a minors deal, per a report from Craig Mish of FNTSY Sports Radio. He’ll report to Triple-A Fresno once the deal is officially confirmed by the club.
Last week, the 42-year-old right-hander was released by the Athletics following a less-than-ideal performance this spring. During his first eight outings with the A’s, he pitched to an inflated 9.42 ERA, 7.5 BB/9, and 8.8 SO/9 over 14 1/3 innings. In May alone, he issued six runs, four walks, and two strikeouts across just 2 1/3 innings.
Still, Rodney can’t be written off as a ‘lost cause’ just yet. He’s just one season removed from his last productive stint in the majors, during which he produced a cumulative 3.36 ERA and 0.5 fWAR for the Twins and A’s. Even taking his inconsistent performance into account, there’s no doubt the Nationals could use the bullpen depth; entering Sunday’s series finale against the Reds, their relief corps ranks sixth-worst in the league with a combined 6.85 ERA and -0.3 fWAR so far in 2019.
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.