Pittsburgh Pirates: Three More Free Agents With Options to Monitor

Let's look at three more players with options that the Pirates could pursue.

Sep 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57)
Sep 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez had a rough 2022 season, pitching in just 91 innings, the fewest of his career by far while owning a 4.05 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 1.33 WHIP. But Rodriguez came back in 2023, returning to form and giving the Detroit Tigers another very solid season to add to a resume filled with solid years. Now Rodriguez will either opt out of a three-year deal worth $49 million or stay in Detroit.

Rodriguez pitched 152.2 innings for the Tigers last season, working to a strong 3.30 ERA, 3.66 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP. Both his ERA and WHIP were career-best. His 0.88 HR/9 was another career-best mark. Rodriguez walked just 7.7% of the batters he faced, with a 23% strikeout rate. Both hovered around his career norms.

Rodriguez was about league average when it came to limiting hard contact. He had an 88.6 MPH exit velocity, 38.5% hard-hit rate, and 7.5% barrel rate. While these might not be over-the-top great, Rodriguez was consistently among the best soft contact inducers going into his year. From 2016-2022, Rodriguez had an exit velocity below 87 MPH and a hard-hit rate of just 31.2%.

It has been rumored that Rodriguez will opt out of his current deal. But his praise for Detroit spoke otherwise at the trade deadline. The Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers were on the verge of making a trade where E-Rod would go to the West Coast team. But given the Dodgers were one of the teams on his no-trade clause, the trade fell through as he turned down the trade. Rodriguez spoke highly of Detroit at the time, saying he wanted to stay there, but the rumors that he'll likely opt out are interesting.

Granted, this could just be a tactic so he gets a longer-term contract from the Tigers. His current deal would last through his age-33 season, so he may be looking to secure a deal that will last into his mid-30s. Still, if Rodriguez opts out, any team will have a chance to pursue him. Rodriguez is a veteran left-handed pitcher, something Ben Cherington loves. Instead of getting a one-year rental like in the past with Derek Holland, Tyler Anderson, Jose Quintana, and Rich Hill, let's get someone who can anchor the rotation for at least three seasons.