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Arizona Diamondbacks close to signing Hector Rondon

The bullpen gains another arm - perhaps our 2020 closer?

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Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

We may still be waiting to see what the team does with regard to a center-fielder for 2020. But while we hold for that, Mike Hazen has made another acquisition. Nick Piecoro just reported that the team is nearing a deal with right-handed reliever Hector Rondon. According to Piecoro, the contract gives Rondon a “guaranteed $3 million, one source said. He will earn $2.5 million in 2020 with a $500,000 buyout on the team option. The agreement is pending a physical exam.” The reliever will be 32 in February, and has pitched for seven years in the majors, first with the Chicago Cubs, and over the last two years out of the Astros’ bullpen.

It seems potentially this is the team following their process of the previous seasons, getting a reliever with closer experience, without paying current closer prices. Rondon saved 29 and 30 games for the Cubs in 2014-15, but had none at all for Houston last year. Overall, he has been solid, with a 125 ERA+ for his career, a figure exactly equal to his 2019 number. He has also been durable, with 50+ appearances each of the last six seasons. Over that time he ranks 13th in the majors for pitching games. However, Rondon’s FIP last season was a career-high 4.96. This was partly due to allowing 10 homers in 60.2 innings, but also came from a drop in his K-rate to a career-low 7.1 per nine innings.

We’ll have to see whether the team will use Rondon as a closer, in the same mode at Fernando Rodney, Brad Boxberger and Greg Holland, or whether the failures of the last two named have convinced them to change tack and stick with Archie Bradley as closer. It also does appear to lock up another bullpen spot. Though worth noting, the team will probably be using the 26th man available for the first time in 2020, for an additional relief arm. On that basis, and presuming an eight-man corps, with the arrival of Rondon, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen seems to stack up like this:

  • Matt Andriese
  • Archie Bradley
  • Andrew Chafin
  • Jon Duplantier or Stefan Crichton
  • Kevin Ginkel
  • Junior Guerra
  • Yoan Lopez
  • Hector Rondon

As Zach Buchanan noted, that does reduce the possibility of the D-backs moving one of their surplus starting pitchers to the bullpen. Though the Duplantier/Crichton spot could potentially be used for that. And, of course, health is always potentially going to lead to one or more spots opening up between now and Opening Day.