Diamondbacks sign starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to 4-year deal

Dec 8, 2023, 2:56 PM | Updated: 2:57 pm

Eduardo Rodriguez...

Eduardo Rodriguez #57 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the New York Mets during the second inning at Comerica Park on May 4, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks officially agreed to terms with free agent left-handed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez on Friday. The deal is for four years with a fifth-year option.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Wednesday evening. Rodriguez reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth approximately $80 million after he met with clubs at the winter meetings, which wrapped up Wednesday in Nashville.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal added there is a vesting option, and the deal can reach five years, $99 million with bonuses.

Rodriguez becomes the most expensive free agent signing the D-backs have made under general manager Mike Hazen in average annual value, surpassing Madison Bumgarner’s five-year, $85 million deal.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro first reported the D-backs’ interest in the veteran starter.

Arizona went into the offseason looking for starting pitching help after navigating the postseason with three starters and two bullpen games.

Rodriguez spent the past two seasons with the Detroit Tigers but opted out of three years and $49 million left on the five-year, $77 million deal. The southpaw will turn 31 early next season.

The Venezuela native made his MLB debut in 2015 with the Red Sox when D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and Hazen were still with Boston. The veteran won the 2018 World Series with the Red Sox.

Rodriguez produced a 3.30 ERA and 3.66 FIP in 152.2 innings (26 starts) last season in Detroit. He had one of the better starts to the season by a pitcher in MLB with a 2.13 ERA over his first 11 games through May, but he landed on the injured list with a left index finger pulley rupture that caused him to miss all of June.

He held a 4.24 ERA in 15 starts to end the year after the injury, and Detroit went 9-6 in those games. The veteran closed the year on a high note with 14 innings and one earned run over his final two outings.

Rodriguez throws a four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, sinker and slider. He has a career 4.03 ERA in 202 appearances (196 starts) and reached 1,000 career strikeouts in 2023.

He vetoed a trade deadline deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers using his no-trade clause, saying he preferred to stay close to family.

Rodriguez adds a southpaw to a right-handed heavy rotation featuring Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt.

Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Wednesday that he is looking for the best pitcher without a hyper focus on lefty versus righty.

“We’ve had runs where we’ve had multiple lefties in the rotation, we’ve had times we’ve had no lefties in the rotation,” Hazen said. “It’s hard for me to think about what’s more beneficial, especially if you think about going into a three-game series and you run three righties out there. … Trying not to get too bogged down into things that we can’t really pin down.”

Hazen said after the World Series he chased starting pitchers at the trade deadline to no avail and regretted not adding someone.

Arizona’s rotation had veterans Bumgarner and Zach Davies at the start of last season, but both were released due to lack of performance. Those decisions, a season-ending elbow injury to Tommy Henry and Drey Jameson needing Tommy John surgery left the D-backs with three starters in the postseason.

“We have two top of the rotation starting pitchers and we think Brandon Pfaadt has the ability to get into that mode. So I think we’re starting in a pretty good spot,” Hazen said at the GM meetings after the World Series. “… I would prefer to have somebody, given the team constructed right now, we can bank on. But that doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t take chances on guys who are bounce-back candidates. I think we have to stay flexible and engaged in the entire market.”

The Diamondbacks have not signed many free agent starting pitchers to major league contracts under Hazen. Davies signed a pair of one-year deals, Bumgarner still has $14 million on the books for 2024 and Kelly agreed to a two-year contract in 2018 after pitching in Korea.

With the progression of the team and a clear need to bolster the rotation, plus the solidification of the bullpen during the latter half of 2023, the D-backs were able to bring in outside help on the mound.

Managing partner Ken Kendrick told Burns & Gambo after the season revenue from the postseason run could get invested onto the field, and by signing Rodriguez and trading for third baseman Eugenio Suarez, the D-backs have backed that up so far this offseason.

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