The Seattle Mariners finally continued their spending ways after agreeing to a two-year, $14 million deal with reliever Fernando Rodney, as reported by Grantland’s Jonah Keri. Keri also notes that the deal could be worth up to $15 million with incentives:
Source: #Mariners, Fernando Rodney agree on 2-year, $14 million contract. Could earn up to $15M with incentives.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) February 6, 2014
Just two seasons ago, Rodney made history by surpassing Dennis Eckersley to record the lowest ERA of all time at 0.60. While still productive in 2013, he took a bit of a step back, posting a 3.38 ERA and 37 saves over 66.2 innings pitched.
Rodney averaged 11.07 strikeouts, 4.86 walks and 0.41 home runs per nine innings on the season. The K/9 was actually the best of Rodney’s career, but there was a dramatic increase in walks (up 3.05 points from 2012).
For the Mariners, Rodney should provide some stability to a bullpen that blew 23 saves last season, per ESPN.com. The video below shows Tom Wilhelmsen missing with his fastball location in a blown save against the Houston Astros.
Wilhelmsen, who started last season as the team’s closer after an impressive 2012, struggled mightily and finished the season with a 4.12 ERA and 5.03 BB/9.
Relievers Charlie Furbush (1.1 WAR) and Danny Farquhar (1.9 WAR) were really the only reliable relievers on the team before the Rodney signing.
FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote about the deal and noted that the Mariners needed another bullpen arm if they are to contend in 2014:
This was a bullpen in considerable need. Maybe not of a closer, but of help. Outside of Farquhar and Charlie Furbush, the Mariners had a bunch of question marks, made worse by Stephen Pryor coming off an unusual surgery. No one has any idea what to expect from Wilhelmsen, and Yoervis Medina is not unlike Rodney on his worse days. The goal for any contender ought to be to improve, and the Mariners intend to contend, and Rodney makes them an incrementally more talented team.
MLB.com’s Richard Justice agrees that it is a positive signing, and he discusses Rodney and other potential moves:
Signing relievers to multiyear deals is always a gamble, but the Mariners were able to land one of the better ones at a reasonable price. If Wilhelmsen (or Stephen Pryor, Yoervis Medina, etc.) can step up, then the Mariners have a chance to feature an elite bullpen.
Whether they continue to spend (Nelson Cruz?) to fill their remaining holes will be the question going forward.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com, unless otherwise noted.