So all that stuff I wrote the other day about the bullpen and the closer and what to expect? Well that’s changed now.
According to multiple reports, the Mariners and free agent closer Fernando Rodney to a 2-year, $14-million contract. Jonah Keri of ESPN and Grantland was the first to break the news.
Rodney saved 39 games last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, but he also blew eight saves and his walk percentage increased from 5.3 percent to 12.4 percent. In 2012, he gave up five earned runs in 76 appearances. Last season, he gave up 25 runs in 68 appearances. What was the problem? He lacked command with his fastball and his change-up – his best pitch. When he struggled, Rodney fell behind in counts, walked hitters and put himself in situations where hitters knew his fastball was coming. Because his command with his change-up wasn’t pinpoint, they didn’t have to worry about it when he was behind.
The Mariners had been in discussions with Rodney since the winter meetings, but signing a reliever wasn’t really an immediate need despite all of the bullpen issues from last season.
The contract is lower than Rodney’s reported original asking price of 3 years, $30 million dollars which was being floated around the winter meetings. Most teams have figured out not to grossly over-Papelbon, er, overpay for closers – that the return doesn’t equal the investment. This could still be construed as an overpay, but a mild one. Think about it this way, Chone Figgins got $9 million not play.
Apparently the Mariners weren’t comfortable going into the season with either Danny Farquhar or a mentally rehabilitated Tom Wilhelmsen as our closer. There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the bullpen. The addition of Rodney helps the bullpen – an aspect that needed help.