A meeting at a Miami restaurant between the Tigers and Eduardo Rodriguez cemented his future with the club.
It was there that the Tigers made their pitch to the lefthander, starting with the idea of winning. It has been seven years since the Tigers last saw the postseason. But Detroit believes Rodriguez can help them get back. The two sides chatted about what they envisioned for Rodriguez. Detroit manager A.J. Hinch intimated that Rodriguez was already a winner, having won a World Series with the Sox in 2018, but that he has untapped potential the Tigers could help him realize.
“Once we met with him and started learning a little bit more about the person and a little bit about what makes him tick, we weren’t getting out of that restaurant without landing him,” Hinch said Monday.
Indeed, the Tigers landed Rodriguez, signing him to a five-year, $77 million deal. He was formally introduced to his new home during a news conference at Comerica Park on Monday.
“This is one of the best days of my life to have this contact and have this welcome,” said Rodriguez, sporting a blue suit with a white collared shirt, a fitting look for the day. “I want to do my part to win a championship.”
For Detroit, the signing signals the club is willing to spend money to win. For the Red Sox, Rodriguez’s departure emphasizes the need to find another starter if they want to maintain their win-now mode.
Despite his career-worst 4.74 ERA in 2021, the Sox saw value in Rodriguez. They extended Rodriguez a qualifying offer at $18.4 million, but once the Tigers put $77 million on the table, Rodriguez candidly noted that the decision was a no-brainer.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” said Rodriguez with a smile, “do you prefer 18 [million] or 77?”
The Red Sox and Rodriguez never discussed the number of years for a potential contract. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Monday that the team fought through emotions on what to offer Rodriguez. But, ultimately, the Red Sox felt the need to allocate their resources differently.
Rodriguez recognized the relationship he had with Boston after six seasons with the club, but acknowledged that it’s time for a fresh start.
“I feel like I had a really good time with Boston,” Rodriguez said. “Winning the World Series, which was special for me, every playoff game, everything I did over there, my teammates, but it’s time to move on and go to the next part of my life.”
In market for a second
Bloom said the Red Sox are still in the market for a second baseman.
“We have enough flexibility and versatility with this roster that it gives us a lot of different ways to add impact, and add talent, and we owe it to ourselves to look into all those avenues,” Bloom said.
The Red Sox have been tied to Chris Taylor of late. Much like Kiké Hernández, Taylor has Dodger roots and can play multiple positions. But with Hernández proving his value in center field, Taylor could be a fit for the Red Sox at second.
Bloom on Downs
The Red Sox recently protected righthanders Josh Winckowski, Kutter Crawford, and Brayan Bello by adding them to their 40-man roster. The team also protected infielder Jeter Downs. Despite Downs hitting just .190 in his first full season in Triple A in 2021, the Red Sox and Bloom are still encouraged by the 23-year-old’s overall talent. “We were able to help him figure some things out along the way,” Bloom said. “And you know, having just seen him in the Arizona Fall League, I think he’s in a really good frame of mind headed into the offseason. We still love his ability and think he’s going to really impact us down the road.” … The Red Sox are making progress in their quest to fill vacancies at hitting coach and first-base coach. “I don’t have anything to announce just yet but we do think we’re getting closer,” Bloom said.