The Tigers face the potential loss of Eduardo Rodriguez, who officially opted out of his contract on Saturday. The move was entirely unsurprising with the left-hander in good position to land a much better deal than the three years and $49MM that remained.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted shortly before Rodriguez opted out that his camp had continued discussions with the Tigers about potentially reworking his contract. At this week’s GM Meetings, Detroit president of baseball operations Scott Harris confirmed that report but seemed to downplay the chance of re-signing Rodriguez now that he has reached free agency.
The Tigers’ front office leader told reporters the club’s valuation of the pitcher is “locked in” after two seasons in the Motor City (relayed by Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press). Asked whether the team would stay in contact with Rodriguez’s camp, Harris referenced rules prohibiting him from commenting on specific free agents before adding he “can wish him the best of luck in free agency.”
Should Rodriguez sign elsewhere, it stands to reason the Tigers would bring in a starter from outside the organization. Tarik Skubal looked like a top-flight starter when he returned from flexor surgery, but the rest of the rotation has a relatively brief track record at the MLB level. Reese Olson and Sawyer Gipson-Long showed promise as rookies. Matt Manning pitched to a 3.58 ERA but was limited to 15 starts by separate foot fractures. Former first overall pick Casey Mize missed the entire 2023 season recovering from June ’22 Tommy John surgery.
Detroit announced this evening that Mize has been throwing bullpen sessions without issue and is expected to have a normal offseason. The same can’t be said for infielder Nick Maton, who recently underwent an arthroscopic procedure to address a left knee problem. The Tigers haven’t indicated whether the issue could linger into Spring Training, noting only that Maton is currently in post-operation rehab. Acquired from the Phillies in last offseason’s Gregory Soto deal, the left-handed hitter ran a .173/.288/.305 line over 93 games during his first season as a Tiger.
In one other piece of roster news, Harris addressed the future of corner outfielder Akil Baddoo. The former Rule 5 draftee seemed a potential non-tender candidate, particularly after the club brought in Mark Canha to join Riley Greene and Parker Meadows in the outfield mix. Harris implied that Baddoo would be tendered a contract, telling the media (including Chris McCosky of the Detroit News) that the outfielder “still very much fits in” their plans. Baddoo, who hit .218/.310/.372 this past season, is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $1.7MM salary as a Super Two qualifier.