Diamondbacks add Eduardo Rodriguez, but 'we're not done yet'
A nearly two-hour meeting with Eduardo Rodriguez at the winter meetings this week set the stage for the Diamondbacks to sign the veteran left-hander to a four-year, $80 million contract, an agreement that was made official on Friday afternoon.
“It was the longest player meeting I think I’ve ever been in,” Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen said. “It was great. He was very honest. We were very honest. We talked about how we saw him and what we wanted and how we would fit. He sort of talked about the things he was looking for. We felt like there were matches there.”
Rodriguez, who turns 31 in April, gives the Diamondbacks another proven starter to slot into a rotation that already includes right-handers Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt.
He is coming off one of the better seasons of his career, in which he logged a 3.30 ERA in 152 2/3 innings with the Detroit Tigers. He opted out of the remaining three years and $49 million left on that deal, an amount he easily surpassed from the Diamondbacks.
The contract is the third-largest free-agent deal in Diamondbacks history, behind those given to Zack Greinke ($206.5 million) and Madison Bumgarner ($85 million), who is still owed $14 million next year in the final year of the deal.
Rodriguez will be formally introduced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at Chase Field.
Rodriguez’s long meeting in Nashville came with a Diamondbacks leadership group that knows him well. Hazen, manager Torey Lovullo and Assistant General Manager Amiel Sawdaye were with Rodriguez in Boston when he broke into the majors in 2015.
Hazen said the group talked through Rodriguez’s time in Boston and Detroit, discussed his health history and went over some of the things he wanted from his next organization.
“He was looking for aggressive game-planning strategy type stuff,” Hazen said, “and I feel like that’s an area where we spend a lot of time and effort on.”
The deal calls for Rodriguez to be paid $14 million in 2024, $20 million in 2025, $21 million in 2026 and $19 million in 2027. There is a $17 million option for 2028 that can automatically vest if he logs at least 150 innings in 2027 or combines to throw at least 300 innings in 2026 and 2027.
“We’re getting a known starting pitcher that has the upside to throw 175 to 200 innings with good stuff,” Hazen said. “I think he’s someone who slots into our rotation, I don’t know exactly where, but in that top four, and I feel like it gives us a fairly formidable four guys. And that five spot is likely to be the young guys competing, and I think that’s good, too.”
The deal also builds in some rotation depth for the future; Gallen and Kelly both could become eligible for free agency after 2025.
“I’m more concerned with now,” Hazen said. “There’s a tangential benefit, but that wasn’t the goal.”
The agreement pushes the Diamondbacks’ internal payroll figure into the range of $133 million for next year. A source said last month the club could end up approaching $140 million.
Hazen said he will continue to scour the starting pitching market but said the club has “higher priorities” now that Rodriguez is in the fold.
Hazen has said he would like to add another right-handed bat who can be an option at either designated hitter or in the outfield, and he indicated he thinks the more likely route to fill that need is via free agency.
“We’re going to focus on offense right now,” Hazen said. “We’re not done yet.”