In business season, there is no commodity more desirable than a cut head barrel. Most contenders need at least one, and even wealthy clubs often look to set up their rotation.
The Tigers could have quite a conundrum in mind in the coming weeks.
In the first two months of 2023, Venezuelan Eduardo Rodríguez is having the best season of his career, posting a 2.19 ERA in his first 10 starts. The lefty also received three first-place votes in MLB.com’s recent American League Cy Young Award poll.
The 30-year-old is in the second season of a five-year, $77 million deal he signed with Detroit, but he can opt out of the final three-year, $49 million deal at the end of this season. With the buckets of money they’ve made in free agency in recent years, it’s a given that — barring some injury — Rodriguez will exercise that clause.
“I think this is a perfect example of why it is so important that the executive team, and organizations in general, have a good relationship with the players,” said the club’s state manager. “It would be a lot easier for Detroit if they could sit down with him and understand how he feels and what he can do at the end of the year.”
If Rodriguez plans to get out of the deal — though he can’t know for sure until we see how he plays the entire season — does it make sense for the Tigers to trade him this summer? The market doesn’t have many top players in the first place, so Detroit could trade Rodriguez for a solid prospect as the organization continues its rebuilding process.
A sensitive part of this decision is the current situation in the AL Central. The Tigers are just 2.0 games behind the Twins and 4.5 games out of a Wild Card berth, despite having a 23-25 record and a -44 run differential.
The executive of the American League, who has been in this situation before, said that when such scenarios arise, it is necessary for the administration of the matter to take an honest account of the times of the team and make a decision.
“We strive to be as disciplined and rational as possible in our functions,” said the executive. “As long as we never chase the carriers lightly, we need to be objective when we evaluate the strength of the team. We need to look at our record or how many games separate us from the first place. We have to study the underlying numbers to evaluate where we really are. The career differential would be one of the first things we look at to see how viable is it for us to continue to contend”.
Detroit will play seven games against the Twins from June 15-25. Those results could decide the Tigers’ chances in the division. How the Twins, Rangers and other AL Wild Card hopefuls approach the trade deadline could also influence how the Tigers handle themselves.
“If there are clubs in front of them who decide to substantially improve their rosters through trades and thereby reduce the Tigers’ chances of making the season, then I’d say it’s more likely than not that Detroit trades him.” To Rodriguez, “an official of the National League said.” On the other hand, when the clubs compete when they can decide to stay put, or sell, that can effectively increase the chances of Detroit, so that in the case it could be more fair to lean to keep, even if you think to overtake the Tigers.
In 2015, then-Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski faced a similar situation with David Price. Detroit was very close to a Wild Card berth as the trade deadline approached, but Dombrowski orchestrated the deal to send the lefty to the Blue Jays, believing his team wasn’t good enough to go into October.
Scott Harris, Detroit’s current president of baseball operations, was forced to make a similar decision this summer if the Tigers were to have a chance, even remotely, of making the playoffs.
The club hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2014 — the year Price was added in a trade with the Rays — and has had six seasons with a losing record. Tigers fans might be upset if the team decides to sell, but the feeling in the club is that the owners understand the truth of the matter.
One National League executive doesn’t think Detroit’s industry is a “serious contender” for the franchise, though that doesn’t mean Rodriguez is certain the future will be traded.
A clause that allows Rodríguez to opt out of his contract could make things difficult for the Tigers. The team that acquires him beyond 2023 will be taking some risk, as an injury could lead the Venezuelan to remain in the club and collect the rest of his contract.
“Any club in that position would take the risk of all avenues being shot down with the fortunes of a hired player, or it could quickly become a liability if anything was done to keep Rodriguez out of his contract,” the National League executive said. “It’s a very dangerous proposition if Rodriguez’s activity slows down or he sustains a serious injury.”
“Scott is smart and knows that he needs to put the long-term plan of the organization above anything short-term, so he wants to change it,” another AL executive said. “The tricky part” is the compensation for the player who can reject your option, similar to sentences with ” [Nolan] Sandblasted[Giancarlo] Stanton. A small compensation seems appropriate, knowing that he will reject his option; But with pitchers you can never rule out injuries that Rodriguez couldn’t decide to get out. So there is likely to be a big handshake or a [jugador que será nombrado más adelante] or help with your salary if you want to stay in your contract.”
Trading a player who is having a great season while your team has a playoff role inside can send a bad message to the clubhouse and fans; Jerry Dipoto is asked how the decision to trade Kendall Graveman was received in Seattle. But Harris witnessed the consequences of not trading such a player last year, when the Giants decided to trade Carlos Rodon before the season deadline and then saw him opt out of his contract after the season.
“There’s a lot of pressure to do something at the trade deadline that makes it look like you want to win the World Series,” an American League executive said. “It’s a very bad atmosphere to make a reasonable decision. The Tigers’ goal, I think, is to try to increase their playoff contention; if that stops them, what needs to be done. Anything else that comes together should be ignored. But good luck with that.”
Here are five possible destinations for Rodríguez:
Assuming the Angels’ plan is to keep Shohei Ohtani in his final season before free agency, in hopes of returning in October, adding to a starting rotation that currently has a 4.62 ERA makes sense.
The Revolution’s D-back, one of the biggest surprises in the National League, relies heavily on Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly to anchor the rotation. If Arizona hopes to knock off the Dodgers — or simply hang on from the Wild Card and return to the regular season for the first time since 2017 — it could benefit from another solid arm.
It’s World Series or nothing for the Mets this season, and with New York’s rotation boasting a 5.07 ERA (13th in the NL) and the health issues they’ve faced this year, the Kings’ ninth is expected to have some target that happens. Available in July. Also, increasing the salary team in Steve Cohen’s team is not a problem.
One of the best stories of the season so far, Baltimore is building momentum for 2022. Also, the Orioles’ rotation sits 11th in the American League with a 4.76 ERA, as veteran GM Mike Elias was the former starter. .
Boston’s rotation ranks 13th in the American League with a 5.47 earned run average. Thus, adding a starter is likely to be the club’s top priority as a strategic approach. Rodríguez is committed to the Red Sox from 2015 to 2021, so it wouldn’t be difficult for him to adjust to Boston or the AL East.