Pittsburgh Pirates’ closing pitcher Richard Rodriguez has recently drawn interest on the trade market. He could be the team’s next player to go.
After trading Adam Frazier Sunday afternoon, we continue to see a ton of pirates rumors surrounding players who will potentially be traded as the deadline nears. Now recent reports from Jon Morosi have a few teams showing interest in the Pirates’ closing pitcher, Richard Rodriguez.
Rodriguez as served as the team’s closer for the entire season. The right-hander has tossed 37.1 innings posting a 2.82 ERA, 2.58 FIP, and .83 WHIP. Rodriguez has one of the lowest walk rates in all of baseball. His 3.4% BB% ranks 5th among all qualified relief pitchers. Home runs have essentially been a non-issue for Rich-Rod. He’s given up just 2 all year, which is promising given that home runs have been his kryptonite the past few seasons. In 2019 and 2020, Rodriguez had a 1.73 HR/9 rate.
Rodriguez also has control beyond this season. He’s arbitration eligible through 2023. That not only gives whatever team that acquires him 2 more full seasons of control, but two affordable ones as well.
Though there are notable drawbacks with Rodriguez. He’s struck out just 22.8% of all the batters he’s faced. That’s an awful mark for a guy who struck out over 30% of batters faced in 2 of his past 3 seasons. Plus he’s in the bottom 6th percentile of exit velo and bottom 13th percentile of hard hit rate. His underlying numbers don’t heavily favor him. While he does have a strong xwOBA (.262) and xERA (2.85) to go with a solid 3.87 SIERA, Rodriguez has an awful 4.74 xFIP, 5.21 DRA.
The Pirates may want to get Rich-Rod out the door as soon as they can. Rodriguez has suspiciously seen a massive dip in spin rate. On June 16th, Rodriguez’s fastball RPM topped out at 2680. However since June 22nd, he hasn’t even touched 2400 RPM.
Though Rodriguez has been a solid reliever the last handful of seasons and has affordable control remaining. He’ll definitely get some attention from a team looking to bolster their bullpen down the line.
Between the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays, the Bucs probably would rather deal with the Jays. General manager Ben Cherington has a history with the Blue Jays, so he generally knows what they have. Despite having the likes of Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio graduate prospect status, they still have top 5 farm system. Rodriguez probably wouldn’t dethrone Jordan Romano for the closing role, but he’ll definitely provide more than Rafael Dolis, Tyler Chatwood, or Ryan Borucki have this year.
The Oakland A’s bullpen has been pretty solid this season, having 5 relievers toss at least 30 innings and having an ERA+ above 100. Like in Toronto, Rodriguez wouldn’t be the closer over Lou Trivino, but it would give the A’s another quality arm to an already deep bullpen. The only thing is that the A’s don’t have a good farm system, ranking at #28 on FanGraphs’ system rankings. Though that doesn’t mean there aren’t any prospects that should grab the Pirates’ attention.
Though the A’s and Jays have been the most recently connected players for Richard Rodriguez, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone if he ends up elsewhere, or another team comes up. Every contending team will be looking for quality relief pitching as we head down the stretch of the 2021 season.