|Mariners reportedly to sign reliever Rodney to 2-year deal|
by Rick Randall of SeattleClubhouse.com, February 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm ET
Fernando Rodney Profile
According to the fantastic Jonah Keri of Grantland on Twitter, and since confirmed by other reports, the Seattle Mariners are in agreement with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney on a two-year deal that will pay him $14 million in base pay combined in 2014 and 2015. Rodney, an 11 year big league veteran and 2012 All-Star will turn 37 before the start of the regular season.
Rodney broke into the big leagues with the Tigers back in 2002 and was basically a league average relief pitcher with suspect control from that time through the end of 2011 (101 ERA+, 1.46 ERA, 4.9 BB/9) but he exploded in his first season with Tampa Bay in 2012, allowing only five earned runs and walking only 15 hitters in 76 games on his way to a 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 48 saves. His control fell back off in 2013 (again to 4.9 walks-per-nine) but he still saved 37 games for the Rays and struck out a career high 11.1-per-nine.
Rodney is a fastball/changeup pitcher, and although his average fastball velocity since the start of 2010 is tied for the 13th highest in baseball (96.0 mph), he's thrown his devastating change on nearly one-third of his offerings in that time and the pitch has produced a higher run value above average (wCH on Fangraphs) than any other reliever throughout baseball in that time. The pending arrival of Rodney likely means that incumbent surprise closer Danny Farquhar will enter spring training for the Mariners in a setup role. With Stephen Pryor's status for the early part of 2014 still up in the air, the trade of Carter Capps, free agent Oliver Perez not likely to return and the troubling second half collapse of Tom Wilhelmsen, this seems like a very necessary move for the Mariners if they plan on improving on their bullpen ERA of 4.58 from a season ago.
That mark was the second worst in all of baseball, and while the advanced metrics say the pen was actually pretty unlucky in being tagged with that number, the fact is that the talent in Seattle's bullpen needed to improve this off-season. Rodney's addition certainly does that for Seattle, and his ground ball tendencies (18th best mark among relievers in baseball since 2010 at 53.7%) can certainly help the M's run prevention efforts.