Some Boston Red Sox fans might tell you that the loss of Eduardo Rodriguez “doesn’t matter.” They’ll cite the presence of Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi in addition to the emergence of Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck.
However, in today’s MLB, you need more than five capable starters. The Red Sox have two … plus a bunch of question marks. We’re not saying the New York Yankees‘ staff beyond Gerrit Cole is anything to write home about, but it’s definitely deeper than Boston’s bunch at this moment and likely will be when the offseason is over.
Now … if we can just figure out a way to beat the Red Sox when we have the better team …
Anyway, over the weekend it was reported Rodriguez rejected Boston’s qualifying offer and wanted to take his chances in free agency. On Monday, it was reported he inked a long-term contract with the Detroit Tigers.
That was quick. Could not have possibly booked his ticket out of Boston any faster. And now the Red Sox will be looking for a starter to replace the left-hander, who has made 20 or more starts from 2015-2021 (excluding 2020).
Chalk this up as one official, significant loss for the Sox, and a win for the Yanks.
Eduardo Rodriguez leaving the Red Sox for the Tigers is good news for the Yankees.
Rodriguez missed all of 2020 after a rough bout with COVID that hit him very hard, then rebounded in 2021 to strike out 185 batters across 157.2 innings. He appeared in 32 regular season games (31 of which were starts) and then made three postseason starts (two against the Rays and one against the Astros), allowing seven earned runs in 12.2 innings of work.
Is Rodriguez a top-of-the-rotation starter? No. But he’s valuable. Though Red Sox fans will tell you they’re glad “they’re” not paying him $15.4 million per season now (since, you know, all they care about is cost-cutting now that Chaim Bloom is the general manager), this loss might hit the team harder than you might notice on the surface.
The left-hander owns a career 3.83 FIP, which is better than his 4.16 ERA, and his expected ERA was lower than his actual ERA every year in his career except 2015. The last two years he’s pitched, he’s been in the top 10% of the league for exit velocity. He also gives up hard contact less than a third of the time and had other promising peripheral numbers in 2021.
Maybe the Red Sox replace him with a better option … we’re just not sure who that’ll be. There are options out there, but we can expect bidding wars given the excessive need for starters, and the Red Sox don’t seem prepared to have fiscal battles characterize their offseason. The Tigers just cashed in on Rodriguez’s age-29 to -33 seasons, which is exactly what you want when dishing out a contract of this length.
E-Rod was by no means an ace whose departure will haunt Boston for years to come, but it won’t be easy finding a cheaper option to step in immediately and deliver similar results. Any time the Sox get worse or need to address valuable lost production, that’s a plus for New York.