The Detroit Tigers are overburdened with contracts of players who just don’t have “it” anymore.
It looks like Sanchez and Rodriguez no longer have a set role on the roster. It is clear that Sanchez isn’t leaving the team, but Rodriguez’s tenure with the Tigers is uncertain.
For 16 season, Rodriguez has been closing games for teams in the NL and the AL. His best seasons were with the Los Angeles Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers, where he had a handful of All-Star seasons. At one point, he was one of the best closers in the game. He even has a World Series ring from 2002 when he was with the Angels.
Rodriguez has not always been “just a closer.” He did work in other late innings in relief. However, over the course of his career, he has closed more often than not.
So, what will Rodriguez do now that his reign as the closer has ended?
"“This may not be a permanent change if things go back. Things could turn around. I hope Justin Wilson does a great job as closer but things could go back to the way they were if Frankie reclaims his form.”"
Rodriguez lost his spot after blowing 4 saves out of 11 chances. Had Rodriguez saved the games, the Tigers would be 20-11 on the season, in a solid first place. Instead, the team is 16-15 and in third place. The Indians are 18-14. There is no doubt that Rodriguez’s performance has deeply affected the team and his performance could make a difference in the long run.
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Now that Justin Wilson has been named the official closer, Rodriguez will not have much time on the mound. Like Sanchez, Rodriguez might show up in situations where the Tigers are so far ahead they cannot lose or so far behind that they have no chance to win.
Since contracts in baseball are guaranteed, there is little the Tigers can do about Rodriguez. He will be paid $6 million even if he never throws another pitch in the 2017 season.
At the end of the 2017 season, Rodriguez is a free agent. If he plans to continue working in the MLB, he will be working on getting his stuff back. When the trade deadline gets closer, he may be asked to throw an inning or two to entice clubs that need arms – but clubs won’t consider him unless he has something to offer. At 35-years-old, he could have a few more years still to play.
Hopefully, the Tigers have learned from their mistakes about signing aging closers and burdening the team with men who can’t get the job done. I won’t be upset if Rodriguez doesn’t pitch again for the Tigers – what about you?