I’m going to cut to the chase. I absolutely believe that the San Diego Padres should bring Fernando Rodney back in 2017. Just to be upfront, I haven’t heard or seen anything connecting the Padres to Rodney moving forward, but it would just make so much sense.
I have a little theory that if the Padres can put together a steady (not necessarily dominant) rotation and a deep, strong bullpen in 2017, they stand a chance at success. I think the Padres should refrain from wasting valuable resources on high-profile starters and simply wait until prospects like Cal Quantrill and Anderson Espinoza are ready to become our aces. In the meantime, they should look to build a hold-steady rotation that can keep the team in games and stay healthy. Likely affordable names like Jorge De La Rosa, Clayton Richard, Jake Peavy, and Derek Holland have been thrown around.
On the converse of that, I do believe that the Padres should attempt to assemble a dominant bullpen to carry a bulk of the load. I’m envisioning a 2015 Royals formula. The Padres are already looking at a promising core in guys like Ryan Buchter, Brad Hand, Kevin Quackenbush, Brandon Maurer, and if healthy, hopefully Carter Capps. Throw Rodney back in there and I really think we could be looking at one of the best pens in baseball.
Why bring Rodney back? That’s easy. We know he can pitch in San Diego. Why was he so good in the first half of last season with the Padres and then kind of fell off after being traded to the Miami Marlins in June? Maybe he was just more of a fit with the culture of the Padres. Maybe he was more comfortable with the Padres’ coaching staff. Whatever it was, here are the numbers: In 28.2 innings, he had a .31 ERA and a .872 WHIP with 17 saves and 33 strike outs. His showing was so incredibly good in the first half of the season that the 39-year-old Rodney was named to the All-Star team (unfortunately as a Marlin).
In Miami he didn’t fare so well. In 36.2 innings, he had a 5.89 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP with 8 saves and 44 strikeouts. That’s kind of a big difference. The numbers don’t exactly give the full story though. When Marlins closer A.J. Ramos fractured his finger in August, Rodney stepped in at closer and pitched well. He allowed one run in 12 innings while saving eight games in as many chances over the course of about three weeks. He eventually lost his role as closer back to Ramos after some bad outings. Rodney’s biggest issue has always been his consistency and while he had a good stretch in August, he had other periods of inconsistency with the Marlins.
Last week, the Marlins declined Rodney’s 2017 option. His contract, that he originally signed with the Padres, called for a base salary of $2 million, but he cleared bonuses in 2016, bringing the value of the option up to $4.5 million. The Marlins didn’t find that to be a reasonable price tag, so they exercised his $400K buyout instead. That all makes sense. Rodney didn’t pitch at that value for the Marlins. Now he’s a free agent and should be looking for a reasonable deal in his 40-year-old season. Even if he asked for the same exact contract as the one he signed last season, it would be worth it.
If the Padres chose to bring back Rodney, he could slot right back into the closer role. Maurer could slide back into a high-leverage set-up man (an Andrew Miller with the Yankees-type role). He’s done well in that spot in the past. Rodney isn’t much of a set-up man, but he’s a lights-out closer when he’s on. Such is my reasoning in displacing Maurer in favor of Rodney. There will still be tons of bullpen depth with Hand, Buchter, Quackenbush, and Capps, plus whoever else shows up, behind Rodney and Maurer.
I do absolutely think that the Padres should bring back Fernando Rodney in 2017. He should be affordable and he’s a known success in a Padre uniform. He will add depth to a strong bullpen, which I think is a key to success in 2017. Finally, I just want to see him fire off some more arrows and point them out to Wil Myers. Who’s with me?