Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers continued to be the most active team on the market by signing the youngest starter on the free-agent market. The addition of southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez is massive for the rotation, with the group now made of a strong mix of young guns and veteran leaders.
The addition of Rodriguez also marks another major change for the Detroit Tigers. His 5-year, $77 million contract marks the first major free-agent contract given out in years. The end of the rebuild is on the horizon, and the Tigers are ready to be competitive, giving out massive contracts and being ready to play hardball.
But was this even a good deal? What can we as fans expect from Rodriguez?
Well, those questions definitely come with major caveats, primarily centered around his health. Notably, Rodriguez has had injury issues that have sidelined him in years past (left knee surgery, sprained ankle, elbow inflammation, and heart issues as a nasty side effect of COVID that knocked out his 2020 season).
However, outside of that lost 2020, he has pitched complete seasons in 2021 and 2019, making at least 30 starts in each. In terms of analysis, Rodriguez gives great upside, and as shown below, should make for an excellent starter.
Detroit Tigers receive an excellent deal with Eduardo Rodriguez.
Over the past six years, Eduardo Rodriguez has established himself as a very reliable starter in the major leagues. This is evident in his career 4.16 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 892 strikeouts. However, while these numbers are good, they do not tell the entire story of how good he can be.
His peripheral statistics tell a better story. His career FIP is 3.83, and in four out of his six seasons, his FIP has outperformed his ERA, meaning that he has been far better than the ERA shows. Further, his per/9 statistics show that his strikeout numbers have increased throughout his career, while his walk and home run numbers have either decreased or stayed consistent.
The peripherals show a deeply well-rounded pitcher, one with the ability to strike hitters out while also limiting hard hits. His Baseball Savant percentile rankings support this, which places him in the upper percentiles in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. He has a five-pitch arsenal that he mixes continually, living fastball-changeup a combined 63% of the time.
Value-wise, Rodriguez has established a very strong career for himself, building a 14.6 career fWAR over his full seasons. In his past two, he has combined for 7.5, and this is with this past season considered a “down year.” Even while he gave up a .363 BABIP (likely a result of a bad Red Sox defense), he was worth the 24th highest WAR (the same as Adam Wainwright and Max Fried, 0.1 away from Robbie Ray).
Overall, the “E-Rod” signing represents the new Tigers direction to a T. He’s an established player in his prime, and he will most certainly be ready to contribute at the 2-3 rotation spot alongside Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and whoever else is healthy enough to throw.