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The common feeling entering the offseason was that the Tigers would be one of the winter’s most aggressive teams. On Monday, they reeled in a big fish.
Multiple outlets have reported that the Tigers have agreed to terms with free agent left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez on a five-year, $77 million contract. The deal – which is not yet official – contains an opt-out after the 2023 season.
Rodriguez didn’t pitch during the 2020 season after contracting COVID-19 and then myocarditis, but he stayed healthy in 2021 and posted a 4.74 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 185/47 K/BB ratio over 157 2/3 innings. His 27.4 percent strikeout rate and 7.0 percent walk rate were both career bests, and his FIP came in at 3.32.
Rodriguez also made three postseason starts this past season, picking up a win with a superb effort in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Astros. The southpaw’s postseason experience was reportedly one of the things that the Tigers found appealing.
Also no doubt appealing about E-Rod from the Tigers’ perspective is that he won’t turn 29 until shortly after Opening Day next season. That makes him the youngest of the bigger-name free agent pitchers and is surely why he was able to surprisingly land a five-year deal.
Rodriguez can be hurt by the long ball on occasion, but the good news is that he’s heading to a place in Comerica Park which is one of the more difficult parks in which to homer. The bad news is Detroit’s defense was one of the worst in the big leagues in 2021.
Detroit hopes that Rodriguez will be able to provide some much-needed stability in their rotation. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning all have plenty of promise but are young, and Manning mostly struggled during his time in the majors this past season. Matthew Boyd is under team control for another year, but he might not be ready to pitch until around midseason following flexor surgery, if he’s even tendered a contract. The Tigers likely will want to add at least one more arm to their rotation.
This is the second notable move Detroit has made this offseason after they acquired Tucker Barnhart in a trade with the Reds earlier this month. They’re also rumored to be a potential landing spot for Carlos Correa.
The Tigers finished a mediocre 77-85 in 2021, but they were 69-66 from May on following a rough April. They also have top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene poised to make an impact. Detroit could take a step forward in 2022, particularly if they continue to reinforce their roster.
India, Arozarena Take ROY Honors
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America kicked off their award season on Monday with the 2021 Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year winners. Neither of the results were close, as Jonathan India cruised to victory in the National League and Randy Arozarena took the honors in the American League.
India wasn’t even in big league camp at the start of spring training, which wasn’t terribly surprising since he had a so-so year between High- and Double-A in 2019 before not playing in 2020. However, he tore it up during Cactus League play to the point that the Reds decided to make him their Opening Day second baseman, move Mike Moustakas to third and play Eugenio Suarez out of position at shortstop.
Things didn’t go so smoothly for India initially, as he was sitting on a lowly .230/.333/.349 batting line at the end of May. However, he then proceeded to take off and claim Cincinnati’s leadoff spot, sporting a .281/.390/.493 batting line with 18 home runs, 48 RBI, 85 runs scored and 10 stolen bases over his final 481 plate appearances.
In the AL, the results were just a little more spread out. 2020 postseason hero but still-rookie-eligible Arozarena was awarded with 22 of 30 first-place votes, easily topping Luis Garcia and fellow Ray Wander Franco.
Arozarena wasn’t as dynamic in 2021 as he was during the 2020 playoffs (duh), but he was still awfully good. The 26-year-old put together a .274/.356/.459 batting line with 20 home runs, 69 RBI, 94 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. He was one of just 10 players to go 20-20.
There were actually a couple voters who didn’t have Arozarena in their top three. One of those writers had his teammate, Shane McClanahan, second. Both of them had Ryan Mountcastle – who finished sixth overall – in their top three.
Quick Hits: The Mets are finalizing a deal with Billy Eppler to become the team’s new general manager, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network … The Braves have signed Manny Pina to a two-year, $8 million contract with a $4 million option for 2024 … Joel Sherman of the New York Post has reported that the Hiroshima Carp are expected to make an announcement this week that outfielder Seiya Suzuki will be posted for major league teams … Carlos Correa and Chris Taylor have declined the $18.4 million qualifying offer from their respective teams … Austin Hays recently underwent core muscle repair surgery … The Marlins acquired Louis Head from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.