Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Eduardo Rodriguez

by Corey Pieper
Arizona Diamondbacks sign Eduardo Rodriguez

Late Wednesday evening, the Arizona Diamondbacks were able to sign Eduardo Rodriguez to a contract.

It was later clarified that the contract also includes a vesting option for a fifth season.

It's a lucrative contract for Rodriguez, but one that makes sense for the Diamondbacks. Even though the team reached the World Series, they didn't have enough depth in their rotation. Their lack of depth was evident in Game 2 of the World Series when they went with a bullpen game.

This will be the first time in his eight-year career that Rodriguez will be playing in the National League. That used to be an advantage to a pitcher. The expansion of intraleague play and the addition of the designated hitter has mitigated the change.

Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Eduardo Rodriguez

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Eduardo Rodriguez with the Detroit Tigers

Eduardo Rodriguez's time with the Detroit Tigers was marked by some unique occurrences.

In his 2022 season, he only pitched 91 innings. He was placed on the injured list that season with a ribcage injury. But as he was rehabbing that injury, he was placed on the restricted list for personal reasons. When he pitched that season, he was still effective with a respectable 4.04 ERA.

Rodriguez's 2023 season was one of his best yet. At the end of July, he had an ERA of just 2.95. It was known that he had an opt-out clause in his contract, which had his name at the forefront of trade rumors at the MLB trade deadline.

A trade was agreed to that would have made him a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, he invoked his no-trade clause to certain teams and blocked that move to remain closer to his family.

Rodriguez pitched the remainder of his season with Tigers where he posted a career-low 3.30 ERA over 152 innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez's Fantasy Impact with the Arizona Diamondbacks

In terms of filling a need, Eduardo Rodriguez's signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks is one of the best signings that I've seen so far.

Even though the Diamondbacks just represented the National League in the World Series, they needed another starting pitcher. Even more, they needed a left-handed pitcher which is exactly what Rodriguez is. The Diamondbacks will still have a right-handed dominant rotation with Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelley, Brandon Pfaadt, and Ryne Nelson. The Arizona Diamondbacks signing of Eduardo Rodriguez should help to balance it though.

Rodriguez's steamer projections are expecting a pullback in ERA to 3.99. I understand that expected regression as Steamer is based on past results. There is still nothing wrong with a 3.99 ERA, especially with what should be a better offense in Arizona backing him.

Eduardo Rodriguez's Departure Impact on the Detroit Tigers

Losing a pitcher of Rodriguez's caliber is never easy. But the Tigers do still have the makings of an above-average rotation, but they are going to need a bit more luck staying healthy.

Tarik Skubal has all the qualities of an MLB ace. He has to stay healthy though. Last year in only 80 innings, he struck out 102 batters and only walked 14 which helped him maintain a 2.80 ERA. To compete, they need him to eclipse 150 innings for the first time in his career.

Another young Tigers pitcher with health concerns is Matt Manning. If you combine his last two seasons, he gets to 141 innings with a 3.51 ERA. That is the type of single season that the Tiger will be looking for if he can avoid the shoulder, back, and foot injuries that have plagued him the past few seasons.

Casey Mize is a former first-overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft. Much like Skubal and Manning, his career has been affected by injuries to this point. He last pitched 10 innings in April of 2022. Tommy John surgery followed and he has been missing ever since.

Reese Olson had a very impressive debut season in 2023. He pitched 103 innings at the big league level where he struck out 103 batters and only walked 33 while maintaining a 3.99 ERA. His best pitch is a slider which he isn't afraid to throw regardless of the count. No reason to think he won't continue his upward trajectory in 2024.

The final expected member of the opening day rotation is veteran Kenta Maeda whom the team added in November. Maeda had missed all of the 2022 season with a Tommy John surgery of his own. However, he bounced back to throw 104 innings with 117 strikeouts to only 28 walks in 2023.

The Tigers also have multiple pitchers who are prospects that we may see this season: Jackson Jobe, Ty Madden, and Wilmer Flores.

Jackson Jobe would seem the most likely to see the big leagues this season and has the highest upside of the prospects. The young man was truly dominant last season as he climbed three levels to AA. In total, he pitched 64 innings while striking out 84 batters and walking only 6! He continued pitching well in the Arizona Fall League. I expect to see him in the second half of the season.

Ty Madden was the Tigers first-round selection in the 2021 MLB draft. He pitched all of last season at AA. While the numbers aren't as dominant as Jobe's, they are still really strong. He pitched 118 innings and struck out 146 while walking 50. He's another pitcher that if injuries strike again, I wouldn't be surprised to see pitch in Detroit this year.

Wilmer Flores is the younger brother of the San Francisco Giants Wilmer Flores. He is a name to remember but seems likely to need another year of seasoning in the minor leagues. He struck out 90 batters in 89 innings with 33 walks.

Final Thoughts on Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez's NFBC ADP is 78th among pitchers. NFBC doesn't differentiate their pitcher ADP between starting pitchers and relief pitchers. I counted 20 relief pitchers above Rodriguez though which places him at 58th among starting pitchers. His overall ADP is currently at 196 which would be round 17 in a 12-team league and round 13 in a 15-team league.

The one aspect of Rodriguez's game that prevents me from valuing him higher is the strikeouts. He has had a couple of seasons where the strikeouts have exceeded 10 per 9 innings. Typically though, that number is right around one strikeout per inning which is perfectly fine.

Perfectly fine is also how I would describe his ADP right now. Drafting him is very dependent on how I've started my draft. I don't want to rely on Rodriguez as someone who I need to count on for strikeouts. For a 12-team league, I would be fine with Rodriguez as my fourth starting pitcher because I should have plenty of strikeouts by that point. In a 15-team league, he is more likely your third starting pitcher. As long as you have a strong strikeout base with your first starting pitchers, that is fine.

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