Pittsburgh — The Tigers ended up not trading Eduardo Rodriguez before the deadline expired Tuesday and the reasons for it are complicated and a little mysterious.
The Tigers had a deal in place with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in the final hour, Rodriguez nixed it, exercising a no-trade provision in his contract. The Dodgers were one of 10 teams on that no-trade list.
“There were some contractual headwinds that influenced his market,” said Tigers president Scott Harris in a Zoom conference. “There were a couple of terms in his contract that disqualified a lot of markets from pursuing him. So we were working with the market that we had with Eduardo.”
Rodriguez has an opt-out in his contract with the Tigers that he can exercise this offseason. That would leave three years and $49 million on the table and allow him to pursue free agency. That is one headwind. The no-trade clause was the other. One or the other will restrict a player’s market; both will shrink it considerably.
Still, a deal was hammered out with the Dodgers. Harris would not divulge which or how many prospects were coming back in the deal, but he intimated that it would have been a good haul.
Players often negotiate no-trade clauses in contracts to give them leverage when trades are made. And they often include perennial contending teams on their list because those are the teams they’d most likely get traded to.
Just as often, traded players will waive their no-trade clause. Max Scherzer waived his no-trade clause to Texas. Lance Lynn waived his to the Dodgers.
Both the Tigers and Dodgers felt that provision was going to be lifted for this deal. In the end, Rodriguez — whether he was looking for something else in return for lifting it and didn’t get it or something else — exercised the no-trade clause.
Rodriguez was not made available to the media before the game Tuesday.
“It’s not just checking a box on a piece of paper,” Harris said. “We had a lot of conversations about different teams in the league and different situations. We had steady communication throughout. And at the end of the day, Eduardo wasn’t comfortable with the deal as it was presented to him.
“That’s his right. He’s earned that right. This organization gave him that right to have a limited no trade clause. So he shouldn’t be the villain in any of this stuff. He exercised a right that he earned with his performance throughout his career, and we respect that right.”
Again, because the market for Rodriguez was so thinned out by the two contract provisions, there was no Plan B to pivot to in the final hour before the deadline.
“If the consolation prize for not getting that deal is we get one of the best left-handed starters in baseball on the mound every five nights, you know, sign me up for that,” Harris said. “We’re excited to get Eduardo back. He’s been a very powerful mentor for some of our young starters and he’s going to give us a great chance to win every five days.”
Harris was asked if there’d been any preliminary contract extension talks with Rodriguez’s camp?
“We have had conversations throughout the year with Eduardo directly, none that I can really share on this call, out of respect for Eduardo,” Harris said. “But, listen, he sent a very strong message that he likes it here, and we want players to like it here in Detroit and to want to stay here. And he demonstrated that.”
The Tigers made one trade Tuesday, sending Michael Lorenzen to the Phillies for Single-A prospect Hao-Yu Lee. They also acquired outfield prospect Eddys Leonard from the Dodgers for cash considerations.
Lee will play at West Michigan and Leonard will be joining Triple-A Toledo.
None of the Tigers’ relievers were traded.
“I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep all week, having a lot of conversations with the other clubs around the game,” Harris said. “We came into this deadline wanting to be active, but not in a position where we felt like we had to move anybody.
“We don’t ever want to be in a position where we feel like we have to move anybody. And we don’t want to be in a position where we have to move players for spare parts.”
He was asked if ultimately Tuesday was a disappointment.
“I do not find it disappointing,” he said. “Again, we acquired Hao-Yu Lee, a player that we’ve been after for a long time. He’s going to go straight to West Michigan and he’s going to really help us. He’s going to be one of our top prospects.
“Having access to that level of talent is a big win for the organization.”
As for not moving Rodriguez, a creative deal was constructed, one that both teams were excited about and expected to be consummated.
“There was every reason to believe that he would (waive his no-trade clause), through various conversations,” Dodgers’ president Andrew Friedman told reporters. “But nothing definitive.”
In the end, Rodriguez chose to nix the deal.
“You can’t just take the performance and look at the type of return that performance should access and assume that is achievable,” Harris said. “We have to live in markets. And we have to ultimately accept what the market will bear. So I think we operated very well as a staff. I’m really proud of our staff for all the work that they put into executing on this deadline.
“And I feel like we got better at this deadline because we added young talent. And we got better in July, because we added a lot of young talent in the draft. So we need these types of months in this organization. We’re adding a lot of young talent, a lot of players that we feel like we can build around.”