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Fernando Rodney to Padres: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Chicago Cubs pitcher Fernando Rodney throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2016

After dealing Craig Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox in November, the San Diego Padres appear to have found their new closer.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Padres and reliever Fernando Rodney agreed to terms on a major league deal Wednesday, making him the favorite to lock down the team's closer role in spring training.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported Rodney signed a one-year deal with an option and performance bonuses that can max it out at $7 million. However, Sanchez added Rodney's salary for 2016 is in the $1.5 million range.

After going 5-5 with 16 saves in the first half of the 2015 season with the Seattle Mariners, Rodney was traded to the Chicago Cubs on August 27. And while Rodney only made 14 appearances with the Cubs after being designated for assignment by Seattle, he went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 15 strikeouts and four walks. 

"He still has the good fastball, outstanding changeup, and he's a great teammate," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said when the Cubs acquired Rodney, per the Associated Press (via MLive.com). 

The 38-year-old is entering his 14th year of MLB service, and the Padres could desperately use some of the 2014 magic Rodney displayed with the Mariners. En route to his second career All-Star appearance, Rodney captured a league-best 48 saves while posting a 2.85 ERA.

"While Rodney’s career has been somewhat of a roller coaster, the veteran has posted a cumulative 2.80 ERA over the past four seasons and still averaged a very healthy 94.7 mph on his fastball between time with Seattle and Chicago last season," Steve Adams wrote for MLB Trade Rumors. 

As Maddon noted, Rodney primarily operates with a two-pitch arsenal.

Fernando Rodney's Career Pitch Distribution and Speeds
FastballSliderChangeupSplit-Finger Fastball
63.5% (95.2 mph)1.7% (87.8 mph)34.6% (83.2 mph)0.1% (84.1 mph)
Source: FanGraphs.com

According to FanGraphs, the veteran tossed fastballs 61.4 percent of the time last season while mixing in his changeup on 38 percent of his pitches. A meager 0.6 percent of Rodney's pitches were sliders—a component that has faded in and out of his repertoire since his 2002 debut. 

Although Rodney's not much more than a stopgap solution at 38 years old, he's a low-risk, high-reward closing option for a Padres team in need of back-end stability after dealing Kimbrel. And as the 2012 and 2014 seasons indicate, there's still some gas left in Rodney's arm. 

With a bounce-back season on his mind, Rodney may end up paying dividends for the Padres as a bargain-bin signing. 

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