First Pitch: Wandy Rodriguez Will Most Likely Land the Pirates a Draft Pick

Wandy Rodriguez will likely land a draft pick for the Pirates in 2014. Photo Credit: David Hague

Wandy Rodriguez will likely land a draft pick for the Pirates in 2014. Photo Credit: David Hague

When the Wandy Rodriguez trade first went down, I wasn’t a big fan of the deal. Rodriguez had been struggling with the Astros in the two months leading up to the trade, and had seen his strikeouts dropping in each of the last few seasons. Simply put, he wasn’t the same pitcher he was a few years ago, and there were some Matt Morris concerns with his 2012 struggles.

So far with the Pirates, Rodriguez is showing that he can still pitch, and still be an effective pitcher. He started off rough, but whatever problems he was having quickly subsided and he’s been great ever since. After tonight’s outing against the Brewers, Rodriguez has a 3.25 ERA in 44.1 innings this year, along with a 6.5 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9.

When Rodriguez was traded, it changed his 2014 option from a club option to a player option. That means that he now decides his fate after the season. This creates one of three scenarios.

1. Rodriguez accepts the option, getting $13 M. The Pirates would only pay $7.5 M of that salary, with Houston paying $5.5 M.

I could only see this happening if something lower’s his value this year. If Rodriguez keeps pitching the way he has been pitching, he’d probably be in line for more guaranteed money on a multi-year deal. If he did accept this option, it would be great for the Pirates. They’d be getting him for $1 M less than they’re paying in 2013.

2. Rodriguez declines, and the Pirates tender a qualifying offer with Rodriguez accepting. Or the Pirates don’t tender an offer.

These are unlikely scenarios for the same reason: the qualifying offer that the Pirates would have to tender to Rodriguez would be about the same as the option he turned down. Granted, he would get $2.5 M by turning down the option, so there’s more money in 2014 if he then accepts the tender. However, the reason he’d be turning down the option is for more guaranteed money. He’d be leaving money on the table by turning around and accepting a tender. So it’s unlikely that he accepts any tendered offer. Because this is unlikely, I don’t think it’s likely that the Pirates refuse to tender an offer. If he’s already turned down that amount, it would be pretty safe to offer him the same amount and try and get a draft pick.

3. Rodriguez declines, the Pirates tender a qualifying offer, Rodriguez declines that, and the Pirates get a compensation pick.

This seems like the most likely scenario with the way Rodriguez has been pitching. If he keeps this up, I could see him declining his player option to go for one final multi-year deal on the open market. As mentioned above, he would probably then turn down the qualifying offer, since it would be about the same amount as the option. I can’t see the Pirates signing him on the open market, and they really don’t need to. Getting him back at one year and $7.5 M would be great, but there’s no need to go multiple years at market rate when the 2014 rotation could include Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon by mid-season. Thus, the Pirates seem likely to end up with a compensation pick in the 2014 draft.

All of this depends on Rodriguez continuing what he’s been doing so far this year. I’m still a big fan of Robbie Grossman, who the Pirates traded as the main piece in the Rodriguez trade. However, if you factor in the year and a half from Rodriguez, plus a potential first round compensation pick, that would be well worth giving up Grossman — especially with so many outfield options either in the majors already, or making their way to the majors in the next few years.

Links and Notes

**The 2013 Prospect Guide and the 2013 Annual are both available on the products page of the site. If you order them together, you’ll save $5.

**Thursday is recording day for the Pirates Prospects Podcast. Check out last week’s episode: P3 Episode 3: What To Do With Alvarez, Gomez, and Mercer; Casey Sadler Interview.


**Prospect Watch: Big Days From Pie and Carroll, Pimentel Struggles Again.

**Prospect Notebook: Cole Making Progress, But Still Needs Those Strikeouts.

**Minor League Schedule: Morton Gets The Rehab Start In Altoona.


**John McDonald to the DL, Jordy Mercer Recalled.

**Jonathan Sanchez Signs With the Dodgers.

**Pirates Pregame: Alvarez, Barmes Sit Against Gallardo.

**Red Sox Knew Joel Hanrahan Was an Injury Risk.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • derekbellstutu

    If Wandy declines the 2014 option, the Pirates make a qualifying offer and Wandy accepts, are the Pirates on the hook for the whole salary or are the Astros still responsible for their portion? I realize this scenario is extremely unlikely, but I thought I’d ask anyway.

  • elgaupo

    The chance of a sudden drop-off is high. I bet the Pirates realize that there’s no chance of #1, are hoping for #3 but #2 ends up happening.

    I think he’s going to be next year’s Kyle Lohse, other than not having Boras. He’s older and good but not dominant.

    Begs the questions…. would you sign him to Lohse’s 3 year deal commencing in ’14?

    • Lee Young

      I love the way he is pitching, but no way I give him 3 yrs.



      • jalcorn

        4.67 FIP, 3.98 xFIP (85% lob) right now, odds are he settles in around a 4.00 era before too long. I still expect him to exercise that player option.

  • NorCal Buc

    NO. He will resign. He is going to opt out, for another million. NO. THIS guy is a “smart cookie”, ala Jason Grilli. I’m willing to bet AJ wants to negotiate, as well.

    Wandy is in a great situation with THIS team. It is already a contender. He is well liked, and is a major contributor on a winning team for the first time in his career.

    WHERE is he going to go, for another million or two, and find the above? Yankees? BoSox? Angels? Dodgers? NOPE.

    Wandy will be back, just like Jason Grilli.

    • Andy Zibuck

      This is wrong. It wouldn’t be a million more. It’s 1yr at $14M or a 2-3 year deal for $30M plus. Even if you think that’s high (it’s not), a 2 yr $20M deal is SIX million more than he’s guaranteed now. Forget years, $14M is less than what he’d get on the open market. Unless something drastically bad happens, he’ll opt out, or at least sign an extension with us, guaranteeing the $14M plus much more for an extra two years.

  • Steve Zielinski
  • TNBucs

    I think he will go the qualifying offer route for 2-3 million more (the $2.5 million plus the qualifying offer likely being a little higher than the $13 million player option). He’s in a good ballpark for a lefty with a great defense and should hold his value for another year. So what if the Pirates offer a 2-year extension beyond 2014? They get Wandy in 2014 for a discount rate due to what Houston is pitching in which makes the market rate for 2015-2016 reasonable. What I don’t know is whether an extension would relieve Houston of their share for 2014–it seems like it shouldn’t.

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