Detroit Tigers: Three Potential Francisco Rodriguez Trades
Trade Partner: Colorado Rockies
Potential Deal: Francisco Rodriguez and Mike Pelfrey to Colorado for reliever Carlos Estevez, catcher Tony Wolters and infielder Pat Valaika
As it stands, the Colorado Rockies are pretty much set at most positions. The only real area of need they have is in the pitching department.
The Rockies could use both reinforcements in both the bullpen and the rotation as the team’s pitching staff allowed the third-most runs and the third-highest batting average against in the league.
Better results from the pitching side could propel Colorado within striking distance of a playoff spot next season. The National League West club surprised many last season by staying on the fringes contention for stretches.
They ultimately finished 75-87 with a 42-39 record at home. With some prudent additions, the team could be a contender next season.
Enter Francisco Rodriguez and Mike Pelfrey
Last season’s significant offseason acquisition for Colorado, Jake McGee, pitched to a 5.29 FIP in 45.2 innings. With fellow relievers Jason Motte (5.68 FIP) coming off a down season, the team could use a veteran closer.
The need is even greater when considering that veteran reliever Boone Logan will hit free agency this winter. Rodriguez is a definite fit.
With Jorge De La Rosa also scheduled to become a free agent, the Rockies could also use another starting pitcher. Mike Pelfrey is actually be a fit considering his ability to keep the ball in the yard and on the ground.
Pelfrey’s 1.13 home runs allowed per nine innings came in better than the numbers posted in the category by Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke and Carlos Carrasco. Additionally, the former Met finished 17th in Major League Baseball in ground ball percentage among starters with at least 100 innings pitched.
Based on those numbers, he could actually find success in the launching pad that is Coors Field.
Not only would Detroit trim $15 million off their salary for next season, the team would net a trio of Major League pieces.
Most prominent among the trio in terms of upside and ability is Estevez. A hard-throwing reliever who just wrapped up his first Major League season, Estevez pitched to a 5.24 ERA in 55 innings.
While that number isn’t much to write home about, a closer look at the reliever’s other stats reveal he was much better than his ERA would indicate.
Estevez’ other run-prevention stats (4.22 FIP and a 4.02 SIERA) look much more favorable. However, what is most intriguing about the pitcher is his ability to miss bats. The 23-year-old struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings last season, including an 11.3 swinging strike percentage.
Also included in the hypothetical trade would be utility player Tony Wolters.
The former Cleveland farmhand sees most of his time behind the plate, but the backstop can also operate at either middle infield position. With top prospect Tom Murphy now on Colorado’s active roster, Wolters may not be a long-term fit with the club.
The 24-year-old hit .259 with a .327 on-base percentage in 71 games for the Rockies last season. He also added 30 RBI, 27 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, four stolen bases, three home runs, a pair of triples and a 1.0 WAR.
Rounding out the deal is another utility option in Pat Valaika.
Like Wolters the infielder is 24 and made his Major League debut last season. Valaika contributed three runs scored, two RBI and a home run in his brief, 13-game stint with the Rockies. However, the former ninth-round pick flashed his potential in the minors.
Over 136 games split between Double-A and Triple-A, Valaika hit .257 while mashing 41 doubles, 14 home runs and four triples. He also added 80 RBI, 74 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.
Capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop, Valaika’s ability to rack up extra bases would bring an intriguing element to Detroit’s bench.
Given that all three players just made their debuts this season, they’d be controllable for the foreseeable future.