Ex-Red Sox incredible starter opts for free agency, opening door to possible reunion

 

Former Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez is a free agent once again.

Rodriguez opted out of his contract with the Tigers and hit the open market Saturday, as first reported by Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Rodriguez decided to forego the final three years and $49 million on his deal with Detroit in an effort to hit free agency again.

Rodriguez, who turns 31 in April, left the Red Sox after six seasons to sign a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers in Nov. 2021. That contract paid him $28 million over the last two years. In total, he pitched to an 18-14 record and 3.58 ERA in 43 starts (243 ⅔ innings) during his time with the Tigers. He got off to a torrid start in 2023 and finished with a 13-9 record and 3.30 ERA in 26 starts (152 ⅔ innings).

Rodriguez’s time in Detroit was dominated by a couple of off-the-field storylines. He took an unpaid leave of absence from the club from May 28 to July 5, reportedly due to “marital issues,” and there times when the Tigers had trouble getting into contact with him. At this year’s trade deadline, he turned heads throughout baseball by invoking his no-trade clause to veto a deal from the out-of-contention Tigers to the contending Dodgers. His agent, Gene Mato, issued a statement explaining why Rodriguez stayed in Detroit.

“Eduardo is one of the best left-handed starting pitchers in baseball but he is also a human being who wants stability for his family,” Mato said, in part. “They are comfortable living in the Detroit area and have adjusted well.”

By opting out, Rodriguez joins a strong group of free agent pitchers on the open market. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery, Sonny Gray, Lucas Giolito, Michael Wacha, Shota Imanaga, Kyle Hendricks and Wade Miley headline the group alongside Shohei Ohtani, who won’t pitch in 2024 but offers tremendous upside on the mound in the future. The Red Sox, under new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, are known to be looking to add multiple starting pitchers this winter and are likely to play at the top of the market.

It’s unclear if the Red Sox plan on reaching out to Rodriguez about a reunion. He’s likely in line for a pretty strong deal. The Athletic predicted five years for $90 million) and is someone who had pitched in Boston before, eliminating the learning curve about adjusting to the market. With that said, Rodriguez needed constant pushing from manager Alex Cora and others during his time in Boston and the Sox did not make much of an effort to bring him back two years ago. It seems more likely the Sox will pursue pitchers like Yamamoto, Snell, Nola, Montgomery and Giolito in their efforts to add to the rotation.

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