Detroit Tigers pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez needs a bounce-back season.
The Detroit Tigers signed Eduardo Rodríguez last off-season to a five-year, $77 million contract. It was courtesy of Al Avila and is one that has not looked like the best deal for the organization to this point.
The good part of Rodríguez's deal with the Detroit Tigers is that it does contain a player opt-out after the 2023 season. Not that he is in any position to head to the market and earn big money, but a good 2023 season could get him off the books and free up room in the Tigers' rotation.
He is currently slated to earn $14 million this season before that increases to $18 million in 2024, barring any opt-out. After that, he decreases to $16 million and $15 million in 2025 and 2026, respectively. His performance has undoubtedly not warranted that annual value.
Things can change, but 2022 was abysmal, given the situation. At one point, the Tigers organization had essentially gotten no-call/no-show'd by their southpaw. He went 94 days between starts and was absent from the team from mid-May until mid-to-late August.
Rodríguez had some family affairs to tend to, but the absence from the field was indeed a problem. The Tigers had to go without one of their big additions, and then he had to take time to work back up to speed.
Rodríguez finished the 2022 season with 17 total starts, where he pitched to a 5-5 record over 91.0 innings pitched. He punched out 72 opposing hitters while managing a 4.05 ERA and 1.33 WHIP for the Tigers.
The point is he was only present for half a season, and even if his numbers were better than they were in 2021, things could have been better. The Tigers have to hope he comes out and pitches better in 2023.
The way things stand right now, Rodríguez is the team's unofficial ace. Spencer Turnbull may have something to say about that, and obviously, Casey Mize/Tarik Skubal would compete for that right, but Rodríguez is the unofficial ace.
He needs a big season in 2023. Rodríguez needs to stay healthy, stay on top of his game, and produce better numbers. If the Tigers want him to bring value to the team, it's got to happen.
Now, anyone can point fingers at players who need to be better, and ultimately the hope is for every player to improve year to year. But, for Rodriguez, this is crucial for him. He can post a good year and possibly opt-out for a better deal.
For the Tigers, trying to get the most value out of their contract also means they need improvement out of Rodríguez. If not, it may lead to Scott Harris trying to offload him. But that may not be the worst thing in the world.