The Orioles are determined to make a significant expenditure on a closer even though they traded away their existing closer because he cost too much. There will be plenty of time for us to debate the wisdom of this. They first tried to throw $15 million at Grant Balfour, although that didn't work out. Now, it seems they have turned their sights on another former Rays reliever, Fernando Rodney.
Source: #Orioles making progress on Fernando Rodney. O's expected to make 1 other significant move as well.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) January 23, 2014
This is actually two bits of interesting news in one, though whether the move they actually make is "significant" to us is another story entirely. Further, the source of this information may not even know what they are talking about. Is it an agent who expects another significant move? A rival executive? Still, it does jibe with the article from the Baltimore Sun on Thursday night that hinted the Orioles may actually expand their payroll back to last year's level.
UPDATE, 5pm: Multiple other reporters, both local and national, have thrown cold water on this report. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports have all reported that the Orioles and Rodney's representatives have not talked in weeks. One of these sides is completely wrong as far as what's going on at this point in time.
What is someone like Rodney going to command? He is a soon-to-be 37-year-old reliever who has basically had one good year, ever. His 2012 season was something to behold, when he finished with a 0.60 ERA over 74.2 innings. He only allowed 43 hits and 15 walks in all of that time. That is actually ridiculous. So is the fact that he finished fifth in Cy Young voting in 2012. Rodney had 48 saves in 50 opportunities.
Orioles fans are already well familiar with the notion that a closer who racks up a high percentage of saves one season may not do so the next. Continuing as the Rays closer in 2013, Rodney still had 37 saves, which is good, but he blew eight saves, which is not. It's almost like relievers are extremely volatile, especially ones who come off a bonkers year at age 35.
One key to Rodney's success in 2012 is that he had reduced his walk rate to far below his career numbers. He allowed only 1.8 walks per nine innings on the season. His career rate is almost two and a half times that: a 4.5 BB/9. Rodney would probably mean yet another closer for whom the ninth inning is an adventure. Are you excited yet?
Still, for an off-season where the Orioles have done nothing at all to even make a shred of an attempt to make next year's team better, at least it's something. Rodney is probably a better option to be the closer than, say, Tommy Hunter, who is poor against left-handed batters. While Rodney's worse against lefties than righties, he at least keeps their slugging numbers down: Hunter allowed a .535 slugging percentage to lefties in 2013, where Rodney held them to a .353 slugging mark.
Another thing to recommend Rodney over the likes of Hunter is that he does not allow home runs in general. He's thrown 241.1 innings over the past four seasons and has only allowed ten home runs in that time. Hunter allowed 11 home runs in 86.1 innings in 2013.
The years and dollars are still not known. Unless they're absurd, there's plenty to like about this move, even if there's also plenty about it to make us all want to hold on to our butts.
Oh, and they might not even sign him at all, because "making progress" can quickly turn into nothing, just like every other bit of reported interest the Orioles have had in players all off-season.