Inside the Article:
Okay, okay, okay, we're sick of hearing it as Detroit Tigers fans. It seems like a never-ending carousel of trading away some of the better players for a wish and a hope. But when it comes to an Eduardo Rodriguez trade there simply is no other option than to deal him as soon as possible. In 2022, Rodriguez signed a five-year $77 million contract, which included a ten-team no-trade clause, and an opt-out after the 2023 season. Regardless of his performance on the field, that opt-out, like one last parting gift from Al Avila, means the Tigers have no other option. Rodriguez must be traded and right now his value has never been higher.
Why it matters
When Avila departed last fall, the Tigers' roster was in disarray. They'd drafted a ton of pitching and did very little to bolster their offensive firepower except with players who did not profile very well at all. A lot of strikeouts and very few walks left the Tigers with one of the worst offensive teams during the 2022 season. Scott Harris has done well trying to make over this roster on the fly, starting with guys who profile better at the plate. Trading Rodriguez gives him the opportunity to add some potential or proven offensive impact.
Eduardo Rodriguez by the numbers
2022 did not endear Rodriguez to Tigers fans when he missed a majority of the season on the restricted list. 2023 has gotten off to a much better start. You can see in the photo above that Baseball Savant has Rodriguez in many of the top percentiles as he's dominated over his last 40+ innings.
- Through 8 starts he's top 5 in the MLB in ERA and WHIP (1.57 and 0.79 respectively).
- He's accrued a 3.07 FIP, 8.19 K/9, and 1.74 BB/9 in 2023.
- He's been worth 1.4 WAR through his first eight starts (not including Wednesday's outing).
- Over his last XXX innings pitched, he's allowed on XX earned runs.
Why trading Rodriguez makes the most sense for the Tigers
In the outing today against the Pittsburgh Pirates Rodriguez was not as sharp as he'd been over his previous starts. Going back to April 12th, he'd gone 41.2 innings and only surrendered two earned runs. Against the Pirates, he went five and surrendered four. It can be considered an aberration, but it also could signal something worse. The time to trade Rodriguez is now while his stock is the highest.
The Tigers entered their rebuild failing to trade Michael Fulmer when his stock was highest and arguably ended up getting nothing for him. They cannot afford to make the same mistake with Rodriguez.
Pitching will be coveted by contenders, and even if the Tigers are in the mix for the division they have to be realistic about the team they have – one that is not a contender, yet. Trading the assets you have, which we've seen Harris do with bullpen arms this offseason, is something that must be done if this “we're not calling it a rebuild” rebuild is going to yield fruit, unlike the ill-advised Avila disaster.
So trade Rodriguez as soon as possible. He made one start today, which means he should only make 3-4 more starts for the Tigers if they are going to get the best price for him.
If you want to build a team, you have to strike when the iron is hot. It's like the housing market, you have to sell high and buy low, that's basic economics. The stock for Eduardo Rodriguez will never be higher than it is right now, even with an opt-out at the end of the season. To get the most out of your return for him, the Tigers will need to have him dealt by mid-June to cash in and continue to reshape this roster – one that has been pleasantly surprising this season.