DETROIT - MAY 01: Fernando Rodney #56 of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers during the game on May 1, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Angels 3-2. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Rays are close to signing reliever Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal. The terms have not been released, but the total value is thought to be around $2 million.
Though Rodney told the AP last week in the Dominican the deal, for just more than $2-million, was somewhat official, there is still further work to be done. It seems likely to be wrapped up in the next day or two. (Topkin)
If this report is true, Rodney is a decent signing. He's a relief pitcher that has formerly displayed promise -- he has an 11.1% career swinging strike rate -- but he's had control issues over the past couple seasons that have sapped his effectiveness. He hasn't had a walk rate below 4.5 per nine since 2007, and last season he walked 28 batters in only 32 innings pitched. He can still generate strikeouts (7.20-ish K/9 over the past three seasons) and get plenty of groundballs (58% GB rate last season), but he will need to get his control down if he wants to get his career back on track.
A right-handed pitcher, Rodney has pretty even splits for his career (4.18 FIP vs. L; 4.17 FIP vs. R). He's a classic Power Arm, as he averages 95 MPH with his fastballs and he uses them quite frequently. He technically throws four main pitches -- a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup, and slider -- but he rarely throws his slider anymore. His changeup appears to be his main offspeed weapon, and he throws it about 30% of the time.
Rodney seems to believe he's going to come in and compete for the closer role in Tampa Bay, which is somewhat laughable. He's a middle of the bullpen option (if his control is fixed) and he has the potential to develop into more, but he hasn't posted a sub-4 ERA since 2006. He's a good buy low option by Friedman, but I envision him more akin to Juan Cruz (Power Arm, wild, older, middling chances of breakout) than to someone like Joaquin Benoit (who had posted a 2.85 ERA, 3.17 FIP a mere two seasons before the Rays signed him).
With all of Rodney's recent struggles, it seems unlikely that the Rays will sign him to a large guaranteed contract. He may be able to earn up to $2 million in incentives, but it's likely that the Rays will sign him to a minor league deal with a guaranteed base salary (say, $500-900K) and incentives. I wouldn't expect anything more than that.
And with this move, the Rays have likely finished building their bullpen for the 2012 season. I wouldn't liked for someone with a bit more upside than Rodney, but hey, its not like the Rays need another back-of-the-'pen arm. Rodney could work just fine.