Trade season was kicked off when the Padres shipped James Shields to the White Sox and San Diego is at it again, this time sending closer Fernando Rodney to the Marlins.
Rodney has been 'lights out' so far this year. In 28.2 innings, the bearded reliever has a microscopic 0.31 ERA and has yet to blow a save in any of his 17 chances. His 30.3 percent strikeout rate is the highest it’s ever been, and he’s yet to have given up a home run. Part of that may be because he plays in spacious Petco Park, but Miami is as favorable of a pitcher’s paradise. DRA isn’t as rosy on Rodney’s body of work, putting him at a 3.26, but it’s still a fairly good score.
It’s unclear whether or not Rodney will step into the closer’s role in Miami. A.J. Ramos already has notched 24 saves, after tallying 32 all of last year. Kyle Barraclough and David Phelps have also been welcome surprises. In all likelihood, Rodney will serve as Ramos’ setup man or be used as a tactical weapon in high leverage situations.
Rodney has historically been prone to meltdowns of epic proportions, and that’s part of what a team signs up for when adding Rodney to the roster. The Marlins are hoping that he’ll provide more strikeouts than hiding-under-the-bed-and-crying moments. Rodney will also bring his trademark tilted cap and invisible archery skills, which have been the cause of many an ornery old man writing a bitter column or screaming into a radio microphone. We here at BtBS aren’t exactly sure what the state of hot takes in the Miami sports market is when it comes to a team that isn’t the Dolphins, but Marlins fans would do well to steel themselves in advance.
In return for Rodney, the Padres get A-ball starting pitcher Chris Paddack. Not much of a blue-chipper before this year, Paddack has allowed a hit only nine times in 28.1 innings so far in 2016. He’s also struck out 48 and walked only a pair. While this may sound like the second coming of Clayton Kershaw, he’s only pitched six times so far, and was ranked 17th in the system by Baseball America before the season. That’s a lackluster ranking in a very lackluster farm system. So Paddack could indeed become something based on his current wizardry, but for now he’s merely interesting.
All in all, this is a fine enough trade for Miami who is certainly within striking distance of a playoff berth. They’ve just recently passed the Mets to find themselves in second place in the NL East, and could quickly find themselves being in the middle of playoff contenders if the Mets’ injury woes get any worse. The Marlins likely will need to add another starting pitcher to really gear up, but this is a good first step. Contention has always been on the fringes of possibility for Miami, given the excellent core in place. Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, Christian Yellich, Marcell Ozuna... these are excellent players indeed, and they have a fine supporting cast. Dee Gordon will also return at some point to aid in the playoff push, but he will not be eligible for the playoffs due to the conditions of his PED suspension.
Rodney isn’t going to blow the doors off of anything besides the egos of unwritten rule fetishists, but he’s another quality player on surprisingly quality Miami team. He was an expendable asset for a Padres team that’s going nowhere in a hurry. Such is the nature of midseason trades. Rodney, his fantastic changeup, his crooked hat and invisible bow and arrow, now get to wear the garish Miami colors.
In a way, everyone wins.
Rodney enthusiasts should be sure to check out this chronicle of his adventures in Seattle.
Nicolas Stellini is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. He also writes for Baseball Prospectus and BP Bronx. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.