Dave Shovein breaks down the expectation that top prospect Grayson Rodriguez will begin the year in the Orioles rotation in today's Offseason Lowdown.
The Time is Now for Grayson Rodriguez
Most fantasy managers anticipated that we would see the game's top pitching prospect – Grayson Rodriguez – spend meaningful time in the big leagues during the 2023 season. There was always the question though of when exactly he'd make his highly-anticipated big league debut.
Well, it doesn't sound like we'll have to wait long. In an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sunday, Orioles' general manager Mike Elias said that he expects the highly-touted 23-year-old right-hander to make Baltimore's starting rotation out of Spring Training.
Rodriguez was poised to make his debut during the 2022 campaign before a Grade 2 right lat strain in early June ostensibly ended his season. In total, he made 17 starts at the minor league level during the 2022 season – compiling a 2.62 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and a 109/28 K/BB ratio over 75 2/3 innings across three minor league levels. Of his 17 starts, 14 of them came at Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles have preferred to manage their young starter's innings closely versus late-season shutdowns, so fantasy managers should expect shorter outings from Rodriguez out of the gate. Even with a cap on his innings though, Rodriguez should be an impact contributor in fantasy leagues right out of the gate.
The odds-on favorite to capture American League Rookie of the Year honors, Rodriguez is ranked as a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball for the second straight year in 2023.
Prior to Elias' comments on Sunday, Rodriguez had sported an average draft position just inside the top-200 picks overall in NFBC Draft Champions drafts in the month of January. Given his immense upside and profile, Rodriguez was already the type of player that was likely to skyrocket up draft boards by the end of March. This news will likely begin that ascent even earlier. You'll likely have to pony up a top-150 selection to secure the right-hander's services.
Rangers Keep Adding Pitching
The Rangers have had quite an off-season already – with most of their big moves being additions to their pitching staff. They bolstered their starting rotation by adding Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi via the free agent market, re-signed Martín Pérez and acquired Jake Odorizzi from the Braves in an effort to completely overhaul what was the clubs' biggest weakness.
They don't appear to be content to rest on what they have though, as they're still looking to add to the staff. They made that clear once again over the weekend, signing left-hander Danny Duffy and right-hander Ian Kennedy each to minor league deals.
Sure, on the surface neither looks like a significant signing – but both hurlers have had success in the path and this is exactly the type of deal that has worked out well for the Rangers in the past.
Duffy wound up missing the entire 2022 season after undergoing surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his pitching elbow. He holds a solid 3.95 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP over 1172 1/3 innings across 11 big league seasons in his career – all with the Royals. It's unclear if he's going to function strictly as rotation depth for the Rangers, or if he'll transition to the bullpen – a move that he was going to make during the 2022 season with the Dodgers if he had made it back in time.
Kennedy is a bit of a different story. The 38-year-old hurler will work exclusively out the bullpen and has plenty of closing experience in his past – as he has racked up 66 saves in his career. He has resurrected his career with the Rangers once already – as he signed a minor league deal prior to the 2021 season and ultimately served as the club's closer, registering a stellar 2.51 ERA and 1.05 WHIP while securing 16 saves before he was dealt to the Phillies in a mid-season deal. He'll need to beat out José Leclerc, Jonathan Hernández and Brock Burke if he's going to see time in the ninth inning again this time around.
MLB Quick Hits: Juan Toribio and Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that the Rays are closing in on a three-year, $24 million contract extension with Yandy Díaz… The Rays also signed Pete Fairbanks to a three-year, $12 million extension – with a $7 million club option for the 2026 season… The Mets signed Jeff McNeil to a four-year, $50 million contract extension… The Giants agreed to a contract with veteran backstop Roberto Pérez… The Phillies inked Josh Harrison to a one-year, $2 million deal… The Yankees and Gleyber Torres avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $9.95 million contract…Athletics' general manager David Forst said that he expects James Kaprielian (shoulder) and Paul Blackburn (finger) to be ready for the start of the regular season… Forst also said that he expects Jesús Aguilar to be an everyday player – rotating between first base and designated hitter… Reds skipper David Bell said Saturday that he expects Tyler Stephenson (shoulder) to play around 140-150 games during the upcoming season… Nick Ahmed (shoulder) has been swinging “full-go” for about a month now and isn't expected to have any restrictions during the spring… Alex Kirilloff (wrist) began swinging a bat in early January and is hoping to have a mostly normal spring training… Kyle Crick (elbow) held a showcase for interested teams on Friday… Twins' right-hander Kenta Maeda (elbow) told reporters on Saturday that he won't have any restrictions at the start of spring training… The Mariners granted infielder Jason Vosler his release after signing him to a minor league contract earlier in January… Rangers' general manager Chris Young told reporters on Saturday that Brock Burke could factor into the team's closer mix… Nick Senzel (toe) is expected to function as the Reds' starting center fielder in 2023 – whenever he's not on the injured list… Joey Votto (shoulder) isn't likely to be a full participant at the start of spring training… The Royals signed veteran infielder Matt Duffy to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… The Cardinals brought in left-hander Andrew Suarez on a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp… The Rangers signed outfielders Jackson Frazier and Travis Jankowski to minor league contracts with spring training invites… The Brewers added Skye Bolt on a minor league deal… The Royals officially announced their one-year, $3.75 million deal with left-hander Aroldis Chapman… The Nationals signed right-hander Alex Colome to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training… The Braves extended manager Brian Snitker's contract through the 2025 campaign.