Will the Red Sox extend a qualifying offer towards Eduardo Rodriguez? They have until Sunday at 5 p.m. eastern time to do so.
Rodriguez is one of 160-plus major-leaguers who have filed for free agency since the World Series ended on Tuesday. The 28-year-old left-hander is a few weeks removed from an up-and-down 2021 season.
After finishing sixth in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2019 and missing all of the shortened 2020 season due to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19, Rodriguez opened the 2021 campaign on the injured list. He then made his season debut on April 8.
In 32 appearances (31 starts), Rodriguez posted a 4.74 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 185:47 over 157 2/3 innings of work. The Red Sox went 20-12 in games he appeared in.
On the surface, the numbers Rodriguez put up this season may not look all that encouraging. Digging deeper, however, the Venezuelan southpaw did produce a much more encouraging 3.32 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 3.55 xERA, and 3.64 SIERA.
Amongst the 18 major-league lefties who accrued at least 150 innings this year, Rodriguez ranked second in strikeouts per nine innings (10.6), 11th in walks per nine innings (2.7), second in strikeout rate (32.1%), 11th in walk rate (7%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP, per FanGraphs.
All told, it was a relatively encouraging season going into a walk year for Rodriguez, who earned $8.3 million and has now put himself in a position to earn even more.
That being the case because this off-season, the value of the qualifying offer — which is the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players in baseball — comes out to $18.4 million.
If extended a qualifying offer between now and Sunday’s deadline, Rodriguez will have up to 10 days, or until November 17 at the latest, to either accept or reject it.
Rodriguez accepting the qualifying offer would result in him returning to the Red Sox on a one-year, $18.4 million deal for the 2022 season with the chance to test the free agency waters again next winter. Boston would then be prohibited from extending him a qualifying offer for a second time.
If Rodriguez were to decline Boston’s qualifying offer and instead sign with another club as a free agent, the Red Sox would then receive compensation in the form of a draft pick from his new club.
For Rodriguez, a client of ISE Baseball, these are certainly interesting times. The 6-foot-2, 231 pound lefty could hit the open market this winter if he so chooses. But he does not turn 29 until next April, so his earning window would still be pretty wide open even if he were to remain with the Red Sox for an additional season.
Last year at this time, a pair of National League pitchers in the Mets’ Marcus Stroman (who opted out of the 2020 season) and the Giants’ Kevin Gausman both accepted qualifying offers from their respective clubs. That decision paid off for both, as the pair of righties are now set to cash in as free agents.
With that being said, though, it is no sure thing that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will even extend a qualifying offer in Rodriguez’s direction by the deadline to do so on Sunday. There seems to be plenty of speculation that the club is leaning in that direction, but that remains to be seen until it actually does or does not happen.
(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)