Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy Rodriguez Expected to Pick Up His Player Option

Wandy Rodriguez

Expect Wandy Rodriguez to pick up his player option for 2014. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Wandy Rodriguez put up some good numbers with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the last year. After the trade that brought him over from Houston he posted a 3.72 ERA in 75 innings. The 2012 season was also the fourth year in a row that Rodriguez went 190+ innings in a season.

Because he was traded, his 2014 option year turned from a team option to a player option. That gave him the opportunity to opt out, collect the $2.5 M buyout, and hit the free agent market. At the start of the 2013 season it looked like that was a strong possibility. Rodriguez started off with a 3.59 ERA in 62.2 innings of work over 12 starts. He looked to be on his way to another great season, and a much bigger payday in free agency than his $13 M option.

Then he got hurt. That was followed by a rehab start, which was quickly followed by Rodriguez getting shut down. He tried to throw again in late July, but felt pain and was shut down. At the end of August he learned that he had arthritis in his left elbow. He did make a rehab start a few days later, and followed that up with a simulated game last week. Each time he felt pain in the elbow, leading to him being shut down for the rest of the season over the weekend.

“It’s always been the flexor tendon in the forearm,” Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington said. “He’s tried to come back through it, he’s tried to battle back through. He would rest, it felt good, and then he feels it again.”

34 year old pitchers who miss half a season with a recurring injury, and who are diagnosed with arthritis in their elbow don’t usually get big deals in free agency. I’m not sure about that last part, since I haven’t really looked up which pitchers have experienced this and how they’ve been pursued. But Rodriguez is already guaranteed $13 M, and the part about him being 34 and missing half a season with an injury would be enough to prevent him from getting more than that on the open market.

In short, expect Rodriguez back next year on his $13 M player option.

“We’re operating as if Wandy will be a Pirate next year,” Huntington said. He also noted that the Pirates “fully expect [Rodriguez] should be good to go for Spring Training.”

Having Rodriguez back is low risk from a financial standpoint. As part of the trade with Houston, the Astros will pick up $5.5 M if the option is exercised, which means the Pirates are only on the hook for $7.5 M. If Rodriguez ends up missing the entire year with this injury, then that’s usually a situation where insurance covers the cost for the team, so it’s not like the Pirates will be in a situation where they have $7.5 M in dead payroll. The only threat of dead payroll would be if Rodriguez is healthy enough to pitch, but no longer effective like he was for the Pirates in 2012 and 2013.

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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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  • leadoff

    What a bad spot for the Pirates, major league baseball contracts really favor the player, the team is in a bind. There is no way that with the problem he has that he will be an effective pitcher for the Pirates without some kind of operation. How many times have teams waited on pitchers with arm problems only to have them end up with an operation. The Pirates still have to wheel and deal for their rotation for next year and Wandy makes it difficult, he is not tradeable, IMO, he is deadweight.

  • Y2JGQ2

    Well Leadoff- as Tim said: if he needs surgery, we lose no money, if he comes back, he is worth 7 .5mm for the year. I don’t see anyway he becomes dead weight. In spring training either he can pitch or he can’t. Maybe he is just going to get his paycheck and retire and never pitch- if he has arthritis and doesn’t want to pitch through the pain, that’s what I’d do if i was him. We have more than enough pitching depth for next year without him. We have no need to deal for a pitcher. We have Liriano, Cole, Morton, and Locke guaranteed already. We’ll have mcPherson coming back, we’ll have Irwin ready to pitch, Taillon should be ready during the year, and Cumpton can pitch as can Gomez. Even Kris Johnson is a depth option. I’m not sure what you are worried about.

    • Stephen Brooks

      Don’t forget Pimentel, who will need to be on the 25-man roster in 2014. That said, I’d rather have too many options than too few, and hope we can re-sign AJ to a reasonable deal.

      • Matt Beam

        for next yr, Bucs need to decide if he becomes a Gomez type long man out of the bullpen, they try to turn him into a Justin Wilson 7th inning type, and/or give him a shot at being the 5th SP

        Figure, it’s Cole, Morton, Wandy, and Locke for sure next yr – if AJ doesn’t come back they’ll need Cumpton, Johnson, Stolmy, etc to hold things down until Taillon is ready and fill in for any potential injuries

  • Y2JGQ2

    …and if Dr. James Andrews say there’s no need for surgery, then there’s no need for surgery. You’ll have trouble finding 3 people ever who got a second opinion which differed from what Andrews says. Noone gets surgery for the sake of it. Tommy John surgery isn’t magic pixie dust

  • CalipariFan506

    Nobody is a mind reader but IMO it’s becoming obvious that Wandy just wants one last paycheck and is ready to retire. Who can blame him? I’m sure his arm does hurt. He just needs to go through all of the motions and jump through the hoops to get his last season of pay.

  • Andrew

    I do not understand all the negativity, what is of more value to the Pirates 2-3 starts from a less than healthy pitcher or a half to full season of starts. MOI and all of the treatment/rehab indicts a flexor tendon strain that has not fully healed, (think Grilli). There have never been reports of an UCL issue and arthritis comment sounds like miscommunication between medical staff and player. Age is a concern but is Wandy really going to pull a Derek Bell.

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