Fernando Rodney‘s time in Detroit was pretty memorable. He wasn’t quite the same dominant pitcher in Detroit as he later went on to be elsewhere, but Rodney still was a pretty good closer and his trademark crooked cap was beloved in his time with the Detroit Tigers. So as we roll into February and you see a guy like Rodney still on the free agent market, you have to be thinking maybe there is a chance the Tigers could reconsider their stance and take a chance on the dominant closer.
I know the first thought in your mind is that Joe Nathan is the Tigers’ closer, and you are correct. What I am proposing is that the Tigers work around that and pay Rodney competitive closer money to set up Nathan. The Tigers have cap space this year and while it may be a bit of a stretch to pay closer money to a setup guy, it worked out quite nicely when the Tigers did it with Joaquin Benoit. It has to be tempting to see Rodney unable to get a mega-deal he wanted and to know that the 8th inning is a huge concern that could be taken away with the simple signing of Rodney. The Tigers should feed into this temptation.
Imagine a bullpen that is held by Rodney and Nathan. Suddenly a weakness begins to be a strength, and the youthful Bruce Rondon is able to learn his craft an extra year without the huge burden of being the pressure 8th inning man. It is worth the extra money and effort to try and convince Rodney to come back to where it all began and help the Tigers win it all in 2014. Pay him for a season, and if he wants to go close elsewhere the next season then let him. But the Tigers need an 8th inning guy, and no one would be better than Fernando Rodney.