The Tampa Bay Rays continue their offseason search for bullpen help. According to reports (Spanish link), relief pitcher Fernando Rodney is close to a one-year deal with the Rays worth about $2 million.
The 34-year-old veteran had a disappointing season last year for the Los Angeles Angels, posting a 4.50 ERA with five losses and just three saves. However, Rodney has proven to be an effective reliever and closer in the big leagues. In 2009, Rodney saved an impressive 37 games for Detroit.
Although it appears that Rodney is on a career decline, his excellent work so far in the Dominican Winter League gives the Rays confidence in him. Last week, when interviewed by Associated Press reporters in the Dominican Republic, Rodney said that he had been signed by Tampa Bay for a one-year deal. He also told reporters that he sees a good opportunity in Tampa to become the team’s closer and said he will “fight” for the role.
Rodney will definitely have competition, though. Both Kyle Farnsworth—the Rays’ closer last season—and Joel Peralta probably have a better chance of earning the closer spot next season. Whether he’ll be the closer or not, Rodney could be a key piece the Rays’ bullpen next year, which is still in somewhat a rebuilding process from after the 2010 season.
At the end of the day, picking up Rodney was a pretty good move for the Rays. They got him at a decent price, and his veteran experience should fit well in the Rays’ young bullpen.