The Red Sox are faced with an Eduardo Rodriquez decision
Pitching is at a premium and the Boston Red Sox are certainly no exception to needing productive arms. A priority for signing would be left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, but there is a statistical asterisk attached to doling out riches to the free agent to be. Rodriguez has done nothing of note to have those riches bestowed upon him.
After the 2019 season, the storyline would be considerably different as E-Rod was magnificent posting a 19-6 record and making 34 starts. With Chris Sale battling arm issues Rodriguez was clearly the staff ace. Then came 2020. The story is well known as Rodriguez sat on the sidelines with COVID-19 related issues.
Then we have the “if” as in if only Rodriguez picked up where he left off in 2019. E-Rod would be on the cusp of multi-generational security for his family. So far that is extremely bleak. Statistically, a long-term contract with a $25 MM per annum attached is now a pipe dream. The only rescue is a sudden turnaround in the second half of the season.
The Red Sox could simply let E-Rod test the market and then make a decision based on internal options, what else is in the market pipeline, or if re-signing the then 29-year-old makes fiscal sense. Much is dependent on just what team’s level of risk versus reward is. Right now that risk level is in the red zone.
Then there is Marcus Stroman. Stroman did the opt-out for the 2020 season. In 2019 Stroman finished 10-13 split between the Blue Jays and Mets. A good but not spectacular hurler. The Mets in somewhat of a surprise move offered Stroman a Qualifying Offer (QO). Stroman accepted and is being paid $18.9 MM. So far Stroman has pitched rather efficiently (6-5, 2.32) and will once again test the market.
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The Red Sox could follow the Mets template and offer a QO to Rodriguez. This is the last year under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Red Sox could choose that path. There is the potential for draft compensation, but conversely, the possibility of $19 MM for a team concerned with the luxury tax is present.
For Rodriquez, it is all about value. The QO allows Rodriguez’s representatives to field offers. Based on his performance this season those offers may shirk considerably. Still, it can be a negotiating ploy to feel out Boston on a deal that may go beyond a single season.
Would the Red Sox do it?
My less-than-valued opinion is Boston will pass on E-Rod unless they can get a short-term deal. For Rodriguez, it will all be about establishing value. Value at this juncture is lessening with each start. The team may be far more inclined to spend the possible QO elsewhere especially with the specter of Rafael Devers getting deep into arbitration. And with specter is the down the road possible opt-out of Xander Bogaerts. At least after this season, Dustin Pedroia’s contract is off the books and David Price the following season.
As a Red Sox fan and for the team the best scenario is that suddenly Rodriguez finds 2019 again. He kicked off 2020 looking like his old self but since the beginning of May, the carriage has turned back into a pumpkin. A strong second half could catapult Boston into deep playoff territory and Rodriguez into the contract stratosphere. A nice problem to happen.