After a year in which COVID-19-related myocarditis prevented him from taking the mound, Eduardo Rodriguez will return to the Red Sox in 2021 on the same salary he received in 2020.
Rodriguez and the Sox agreed to a one-year, $8.3 million salary for next year to avoid salary arbitration. He is in his final season of arbitration before he’s eligible for free agency after the 2021 campaign.
Rodriguez, 27, went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA, 9.4 strikeouts, and 3.3 walks per nine innings in his breakout 2019 campaign, finishing sixth in American League Cy Young voting. He lost his arbitration case with the Red Sox heading into 2020, resulting in his $8.3 million deal for last year.
Rodriguez was unable to pitch at all in 2020 when his COVID-19 infection (contracted at home in Florida before he reported to Boston for summer training) led to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. That development required Rodriguez to avoid virtually all physical activity until early October.
He was cleared to resume exercise near the end of the regular season, and is now amidst what he recently characterized as a normal offseason program, with a goal of a full, healthy season.
Rodriguez and the Red Sox found obvious common ground on his 2021 salary. To date, according to a major league source, the two sides haven’t discussed the possibility of a multi-year deal that would extend beyond 2021, but the lefthander expressed interest last month in trying to reach a deal that would keep him in Boston beyond next season.
“I want to stay in Boston as long as my career goes,” he said. “I want to play in Boston forever. That’s where I got to the big leagues. That’s where I got an opportunity. That’s my family. That’s a ballpark where I really love to pitch — the history, everything.
“We’ll see what goes on there, see where we’re at. Hopefully they want to do it. I want to do it.”
The agreement between Rodriguez and the Sox comes in advance of Wednesday’s deadline for teams to tender 2021 contracts to players on their 40-man rosters. Those players who are not tendered a contract will become free agents.