Ben Cherington and the Pirates have been one of the more active teams at the 2021 trade deadline. This activity is expected to continue with the trade of Richard Rodriguez.
A recent tweet from Jason Mackey confirms what the majority of the Pirates fans already knew – that closer Richard Rodriguez is close to being traded. Mackey pins the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays as the two teams most interested in Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is a prime trade candidate for the Pirates in 2021 due to his contract that expires in 2024, his above-average 2021 performance, and the intensity of the reliever market. This year, Rodriguez has posted a 2.82 ERA and has converted 14 out of 17 saves. With a strong 22 strike-out to 5 walk ratio, Rodriguez will provide a contender with consistency and experience in the backend of the bullpen.
Both the Blue Jays and the Phillies are in races for playoff births. Since both of these teams are currently built to compete for many years into the future, Rodriguez may be a more intriguing option than some of the other top relievers on the market that are on expiring contracts. While there is not a clear read on what relievers are returning value-wise at the 2021 trade deadline, the broad consensus is that premium relievers will be valued more than position players (this is supported via rumors and past trade deadlines).
For the Pirates, one would believe that Rodriguez could return a good haul of prospects for a variety of reasons. First, Rodriguez has posted four straight years of solid performance and is, therefore, a projectable player. Second, he has pitched in high-leverage situations for the majority of those four years which will give a competitor confidence in using him down the stretch. And finally, as discussed above, Rodriguez is on a contract through 2024, which automatically increases his value on the trade market.