What with all the Hall of Fame excitement on Wednesday, I missed this from SB Nation colleague Chris Cotillo:
James mentioned it in passing in yesterday's Snake Bytes, but I figured it was worth looking at Rodney in a bit more depth. Though it's more a case study in the volatility of relievers, and the mirage which is the "proven closer".
After a mediocre first decade in the majors, with an ERA of 4.29, from 2012-2014, Rodney was The Man, in both Tampa and Seattle. His 133 saves were the most by anyone in the American League, and it wasn't really close, with Joe Nathan trailing in second-place, fifteen back, He had a 2.21 ERA and left the Rays after 2013 for a two-year, $14 million contract with the Mariners. The first season went great, Rodney racking up a major-league leading 48 saves, and he started 2015 in similar form notching a pair of perfect innings for his first two saves.
Then, the wheels fell off. Between then and being replaced as closer on June 7, Rodney had a 7.59 ERA, allowing 18 earned runs in 21.1 innings on 29 hits and 11 walks. Things didn't get significantly better, and the major-league saves leader in 2014 found himself designated for assignment by Seattle on August 22. He was dealt to the Cubs, and did pitch well over the last month, putting up an 0.75 ERA for Chicago, but his last appearance of the season saw him allow two earned runs in a late inning of Game 4 in the NLCS as the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs by the Mets.
If Rodney had pitched well, he would likely have been looking at another big payday, but a season ERA of 4.74 doesn't exactly entice. There's some suggestion the crash was not unexpected. At the time he was DFA'd, the Seattle PI wrote of his preceding, All-Star season "he inevitably put the tying or winning run in scoring position, yet somehow escaped on most occasions. Close games meant collective groans in the press box. With Rodney pitching, a re-write seemed inevitable... Rodney was often a pitch or two from falling apart." Sounds not unlike certain former Diamondbacks' closers I could mention, right down to the showboating arrow-firing after a save.
I would imagine Rodney will be looking for a short-term deal, possibly even one year, in order to try and rebuild his value, for one last big . He'll turn 39 before next Opening Day, and time is thus not on his side. As a reclamation project and potential eighth-inning guy to set things up alongside Daniel Hudson, Silvino Bracho etc. he might be worth a look, offering "proven closer" credentials, just not at proven closer cost. Of course, the key question is whether or not Rodney's 2016 performance will be of "proven closer" quality. If so, he would be a bargain, and that explains why we're not the only team sniffing him out.
As Cotillo notes, San Diego, Toronto and his last employers on the North side of Chicago are all also interested, with Minnesota also having been linked to the veteran right-hander. While the Diamondbacks do appear to have some cash left in the locker, I don't know how much they want to get into any bidding war. I think a one-year $2 million deal might be reasonable, but if it turns out to be much more, then we just walk away and go with Hudson and Bracho in the eighth inning instead.