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The Boston Red Sox are discussing a multi-year deal with longtime starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez
Despite his inconsistent season and struggles throughout, the Boston Red Sox aren’t ready to give up on Eduardo Rodriguez yet, and that says a lot.
In addition to extending the qualifying offer to him, Jon Heyman reported that the Sox are also discussing a multi-year deal with the 28-year-old southpaw, who has been with the team for his entire big-league career.
While a big contract may seem surprising given his most recent season, it actually makes a lot of sense to retain Rodriguez. He’s young, healthy again, and had an incredible 2019 season before the pandemic derailed his growth.
MLB insiders predict that he will sign a multi-year deal of at least three years, ranging from $50-80 million, and when you take a closer look at his 2021 numbers, there was a lot more to E-Rod than met the eye test this year.
The Angels and Tigers are interested in signing Red Sox free-agent Eduardo Rodriguez
The interest from other teams also speaks volumes about Rodriguez’s potential and sheds light on the Sox’s multi-year offer. Numerous teams have reportedly zeroed in on him, including the Angels, Twins, and Tigers.
Rodriguez debuted in 2015 and had started 20+ games in each of his first five seasons. In 2019, he set new personal bests, with a 3.81 ERA over 203.1 innings, and leading MLB with 34 starts. He was robbed of his 20th win on the final day of the regular season when reliever Matt Barnes blew the save.
In 2020, Rodriguez was one of several MLB players to fall ill with COVID-19, but it hit him harder than most. He began the shortened season on the Injured List, and when he returned, was diagnosed with viral myocarditis, a result of the COVID. By August 1, he was ruled out for the season.
After a lengthy recovery process, Rodriguez was back in business for the 2021 season. However, he posted a new career-worst 4.74 ERA over 32 games (31 starts). His 157 2/3 innings of work and 675 batters faced were actually the second-most of his career, but a far cry from his 200+ innings and 859 batters taken down in 2019.
However, despite putting up some of his worst numbers this season, there were many positive takeaways from Rodriguez’s performance that explain the Sox’s desire to re-sign him.
He posted the lowest FIP of his career by far (3.32), and while his hit rate was a new personal worst (9.8), he lowered his walk rate (from 3.3 to 2.7), held his home run rate steady for the third year in a row at 1.1, and raised his strikeout rate by a significant amount (up from 9.4 to a career-high 10.6). Those stats point to a bounce-back year in 2022.
If the Red Sox succeed in signing Rodriguez to a multi-year deal, they will have four starting pitchers under contract (Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta) as well as two solid rookies with rotation potential in Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock.
Houck already has rotation experience, while Whitlock was one of the best bullpen arms in baseball in his debut season. Having their starting rotation solidified so early in the offseason would be a huge achievement, and would free Chaim Bloom up to focus on other needs, such as bullpen arms and Kyle Schwarber.
Before the pandemic, Rodriguez was considered the future of the franchise. Clearly, the Red Sox still believe that to be true.