Former Tigers starter a worthy emergency backup plan for Phillies' rotation

Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez should be a backup plan for the Philadelphia Phillies
Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez should be a backup plan for the Philadelphia Phillies / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It's MLB free agent season, the time of year when it feels like a lot is happening and nothing is happening all at the same time. Since Monday, most of the rumors and buzz have revolved around the bigger names in the free agent market, and rightly so.

The big fish — Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, etc. — are the top options for every team, and rumors persist all over the league despite only a select few clubs having a legitimate chance at landing the high-end names.

What about the Philadelphia Phillies? What are their options if president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld can't hook a big top-tier free agent starter?

What's their break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan if they can't come through with an Aaron Nola re-signing and miss out on their backup plans of Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, who have been linked to the Phillies?

Phillies should consider Eduardo Rodriguez

A good option Dombrowski and Fuld should explore is (ex)Detroit Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez. The 30-year-old opted out of his remaining three years with the Tigers and hit the market looking to cash in after a superb year in the Motor City.

Rodriguez must think he's going to get a raise after rejecting the $49 million he would have made in Detroit over the next three seasons. MLB Trade Rumors projects that the veteran left-hander will ink a four-year, $82 million deal.

"The mid-tier starting pitcher market moved in Rodriguez’s favor since his last free agent experience," per MLB Trade Rumors. "Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker set a new standard in the four-year, $68-72MM range, and it could be argued that Rodriguez’s abilities surpass that pair."

Make no mistake, Rodriguez is no Nola, Snell, or Montgomery, but would be a good fit as a high-end, mid-tier starting option.

After a rollercoaster of a few years, dating back to the 2020 season, which he missed with COVID and myocarditis, Rodriguez put together a strong 2023 campaign. Despite missing time with a finger injury, he made 26 starts and threw 152 2/3 innings. He finished with a career-low 3.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP and somehow came out with a winning 13-9 record for the 78-84 Tigers.

The Venezuelan started his career with the Boston Red Sox, where he won a World Series in 2018. He had his best season there in 2019. He went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA and 213 strikeouts in 203 1/3 innings through 34 starts. Over his eight major league seasons, Rodriguez has an 82-53 record with a 4.03 ERA.

If it feels like you've heard his name recently, it's probably because he was a popular topic of conversation this past trade deadline. The Tigers botched a deal that would have sent Rodriguez to the Los Angeles Dodgers when Rodriguez, well within his rights, vetoed the trade for family reasons.

Initially, there were concerns about his willingness to sign with certain teams, but a recent report from Jon Morosi of NLB Network sheds light on the pitcher's change of heart.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, this opens Rodriguez up to more teams who might be interested in his services, like the Dodgers or San Francisco Giants, per Morosi.

But with money to spend and a star-studded team with a legitimate chance to get back to the World Series, the Phillies should be a desirable destination for free agents this winter. That's good news for the team, as Dombrowski and Fuld will be desperate to fill the large hole left by Nola.

More Philadelphia Phillies news and analysis