The Cubs made another series of moves to reshape their inconsistent bullpen, acquiring Fernando Rodney from the Mariners while sending Zac Rosscup back to Iowa and also DFA’ing Brian Schlitter. I gotta be honest, I don’t see a whole lot to like about this move.
Let’s see: Rodney is 38, has a 5.68 ERA and a 5.26 FIP, 1.50 WHIP, and is giving up a career-high 1.42 HR per 9 innings. What could go wrong? The only thing that really makes sense to me here is that he’s a former Maddon guy, having served as the Rays closer in 2012 and ’13, and is coming off a 3-year stretch in which he compiled 133 saves.
There is, I suppose, a bit of good news in that Rodney is a ground ball pitcher. He keeps it out of the air 50% of the time and only allows line drives (which is most likely to end in a hit) at a 16.7% clip against a league-average of 21%. The bad news is that when guys do get it up in the air, they’re more likely to hit it out. While MLB hitters average only 11.1% HR/fly ball rate, Rodney allows a not-so-sweet 16%.
Back to the bright side: the Cubs got this dude for straight cash, homie, so if he poops the bed as badly as the last former Rays closer they signed (Rafael Soriano), they can bid him adieu and maybe try to lure Kyle Farnsworth away from the Mexican League’s Pericos de Puebla in the Mexican League. Also, Fernando will be a lightning Rodney for all the cocked-hat-driven ire generally directed toward Pedro Strop.
In a best-case scenario, Rodney comes in and can be another consistent short reliever to pair with Justin Grimm. In the worst case, he’s Soriano. In the most likely case, he’s somewhere in between, which basically means he’s an older version of Jason Motte. I know, I’m trying to contain myself too.
When you get down to it, this is a really low-risk move that could pay off if Rodney is somehow reinvigorated by a playoff race and being reunited with Joe Maddon. And for those of us who find sadistic pleasure in seeing/hearing others complain about how guys wear their hats, this has serious potential to provide loads of entertainment.