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.