Eduardo Rodriguez has until November 17 to decide whether or not to accept the $18.4MM qualifying offer extended to him by the Red Sox, but seems to be garnering a decent amount of attention from other clubs in the meantime. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays, Angels and Tigers are interested in the lefty, who turns 29 in April.
The free agency of Rodriguez is an interesting case, as there’s a disconnect between his surface results and underlying numbers. In 2021, he had a strikeout rate of 27.4%, walk rate of 7.0% and groundball rate of 43.2%, all of those numbers being better than league average. Despite all of that, his ERA was a lofty 4.74. However, there seems to be quite a bit of bad luck in there, as his BABIP of .363 was much higher than his previous seasons, and all the advanced metrics seemed to think he deserved an ERA closer to the 3.50 range. MLBTR recently predicted that teams would see past that ERA, with Rodriguez getting a contract in the range of five years, $70MM, and this early interest seems to suggest that may be the case. Since extending that one-year qualifying offer, it has been revealed that the Red Sox added a multi-year offer to the table, and the interest of the Angels had been previously reported as well.
The fact that the Blue Jays are interested is hardly surprising, given their rotation situation. Fellow lefties Robbie Ray and Steven Matz have both entered free agency, leaving Toronto with a top-heavy rotation of Jose Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah, with two spots available for options such as Ross Stripling, Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay. They are also very familiar with Rodriguez by virtue of his pitching for their division rivals over the entirety of his career thus far. The Blue Jays figure to consider all options to bolster their pitching staff, and have already been connected to the Justin Verlander showcase as well as making a strong offer to Andrew Heaney in the early days of this offseason.
As for the Tigers, they are looking to jump out of their rebuild and into contention for 2022. After an awful April in 2021 where they went 8-19, the club went 69-66 the rest of the way, which perhaps suggests they were a better club than their 77-85 record would indicate. It could be a very busy offseason for the Tigers, as Morosi also says they’re open to adding a shortstop and an outfielder. Their current rotation primarily consists of young and still-developing hurlers like Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. They’ve likely lost Spencer Turnbull for 2021 due to Tommy John surgery and perhaps lost Matthew Boyd to flexor tendon surgery, creating the need for a veteran contributor like Rodriguez. Like the Blue Jays, they have also been frequently mentioned in rumors so far, being represented at the aforementioned Verlander showcase, as well as showing interest in Anthony DeSclafani and Jon Gray.