If Red Sox are looking internationally for bullpen help, Hanshin Tigers closer Robert Suarez should be on their radar

Like most clubs, the Red Sox will be looking to upgrade their bullpen in various ways this winter.

Of the 29 non-position players who made at least one relief appearance for the Sox this past season, only 11 remain on the team’s 40-man roster as of this moment.

While The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote on Saturday that the Red Sox “are looking to upgrade their bullpen,” he also noted that they “likely won’t limit their search to familiar names” and are instead “expected to look internationally for help.”

As alluded to by Speier, the Sox have been active in the international market since Chaim Bloom took over as chief baseball officer two years ago. Most notably in this case, Boston signed veteran reliever Hirokazu Sawamura out of Japan to help fill out their bullpen for the 2021 season.

This off-season, the Red Sox seem primed to once again dip their toes into international waters — while also remaining active within the traditional free agent reliever pool — in order to upgrade their bullpen.

How will Bloom and Co. go about addressing this area of need? Well, this piece in particular will focus on one potential free agent target in Hanshin Tigers right-hander Robert Suarez.

Suarez, 30, began his professional baseball career in the Mexican League in 2015, but signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball that November and has spent the last six years in Japan.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, Suarez later signed with Hanshin in December 2019 and has enjoyed quite a bit of success in his two seasons there.

Most recently, the native Venezuelan posted a miniscule 1.16 ERA and 0.77 WHIP to go along with 58 strikeouts to just eight walks over 62 relief appearances spanning 62 1/3 innings of work in 2021.

Operating as Hanshin’s closer, Suarez led NPB’s Central Division in saves (42) while also striking out 25.3% of the batters he faced and walking just 3.5% of them.

When he first joined the Tigers in 2019, Suarez became a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign. He then re-signed with the club on a two-year deal that included a player option for 2022, which would allow him to become a free agent again this winter.

Earlier this month, Yahoo! Japan reported (and Sung Min Kim, formerly of FanGraphs and The Athletic, relayed) that Suarez was ‘garnering interest’ from multiple Major League Baseball teams.

At present, it’s unclear if the Red Sox are one of the teams inquiring about Suarez, who turns 31 in March. However, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, the 6-foot-2, 210 pound hurler “is still not technically a free agent just yet.”

If and when the time comes that Suarez does become a free agent this off-season, one would have to think that more information regarding potential suitors and such will become available.

In the interim, the Red Sox will undoubtedly be exploring all options available to them when it comes to improving their bullpen and the rest of their roster.

(Picture of Robert Suarez: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Red Sox made ‘competitive’ offer to Andrew Heaney before left-hander signed with Dodgers, per report

Before Andrew Heaney signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Dodgers last Wednesday, the Red Sox were reportedly among the many teams interested in the then-free agent left-hander.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Sox initially made Heaney an offer that would include one guaranteed year and a team option that would add on a second, which is similar to the deals the club signed Garrett Richards and Martin Perez to last winter.

That said, Speier noted that Boston was willing to up the ante by making a straight one-year offer to Heaney “that was competitive with” what the Dodgers were offering him, but the 30-year-old ultimately chose to sign with Los Angeles.

A former first-round draft pick of the Marlins in 2012 out of Oklahoma State University, Heaney was traded to the Dodgers along with Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, and current Red Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez in December 2014.

The Dodgers then flipped Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, and the lefty spent the next six-plus seasons with the Halos before being dealt to the Yankees over the summer.

While splitting the 2021 campaign between the Angels and Yankees, Heaney struggled for the most part, posting a 5.83 ERA and 4.85 FIP to go along with 150 strikeouts to 41 walks over 30 appearances (23 starts) spanning 129 2/3 total innings of work with both clubs.

Upon arriving in the Bronx in late July, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw was originally a member of the Yankees’ starting rotation, but was demoted to the bullpen towards the end of August.

As a reliever, Heaney did not fare much better by putting up a 10.24 ERA and 7.10 FIP across seven outings and 9 2/3 innings pitched before being designated for assignment in early October and being made a free agent as a result.

For as ugly as a season Heaney had as far as ERA and FIP goes, Speier notes that his struggles “were little deterrent to teams drawn to his swing-and-miss stuff.”

Of the 31 left-handers who pitched at least 125 innings in the majors this year, Heaney ranked sixth among them in regards to strikeout rate (26.9%), 19th in walk rate (7.3%), and 17th in xFIP (4.12), per FanGraphs.

Put another way, teams such as the Red Sox were intrigued by Heaney — who works with a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup — for reasons that go beyond the box score.

Because of his eye-opening peripherals, Heaney is viewed by some evaluators as someone who can bounce back in 2022 the same way fellow left-hander Robbie Ray did on his way to winning the American League Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2021.

The Red Sox, as Speier highlights, are “trying to shore up” their starting rotation in the wake of Eduardo Rodriguez signing a five-year contract with the Tigers last week.

It may have been an unconventional way of going about addressing a need, but it would seem that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. were looking to maximize Heaney’s potential were he to choose the Red Sox over the Dodgers.

Heaney, who does not turn 31 until next June and is represented by Icon Sports Management, instead opted to join the Dodgers as he will surely be striving to reestablish his value in 2022 and test the free agency waters again next winter.

(Picture of Andrew Heaney: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘remain in touch’ with free-agent left-hander Steven Matz, per report

The Red Sox ‘remain in touch’ with free agent left-hander Steven Matz, who ‘has a healthy market,’ according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Matz became a free agent earlier this month after spending the 2021 season with the Blue Jays, who acquired him from the Mets this past January.

In his first season with Toronto, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.79 FIP to go along with 144 strikeouts to 43 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work.

Since electing free agency, Matz has drawn plenty of interest from other clubs — including the Red Sox. Not only is the 6-foot-2, 201 pound hurler coming off a solid 2021 campaign, but he also did not receive a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, meaning he has no draft pick compensation attached to him.

Because of these factors, the Sox are not the only club who have inquired on Matz, who is represented by Icon Sports Management and met with potential suitors at the GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif.

On Thursday, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Mets — the organization Matz began his professional career with as a second-round draft pick in 2009 — have interest in bringing the Stony Brook native back for 2022 and beyond.

Heyman added that the Blue Jays were also interested in reuniting with Matz while several other teams are pursuing him.

The off-season may only be weeks old, but the Red Sox have already taken a hit in regards to their starting rotation with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez jettisoning Boston to sign a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers on Tuesday.

Adding an experienced starting pitcher such as Matz to the mix would be one way Boston could go about filling the void left behind by Rodriguez. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom touched upon this very topic in a recent conversation with Cotillo.

“We certainly want to have more guys who are capable of starting games in the big-leagues and doing it well,” Bloom said. “We’re not too focused on how famous they are. It’s more about what we think they can do. With that said, certainly a lot of the guys who could do the job well are also well-known. We’re focusing on those guys, too. We need to cover the whole map here and make sure we’re involved in everything that could help us.”

In addition to Matz, other free agent starting pitchers the Red Sox could purse include 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray (who is qualified), Anthony DeSclafani, Kevin Gausman, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and Marcus Stroman.

Of course, Boston’s quest to add rotation depth does not have to stop in free agency. As Cotillo notes, the trade market is flush with intriguing names such as Sandy Alcantara, Chris Bassitt, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Sean Manaea being floated out there.

“We’ve been really active in talking to free agents and talking to other clubs,” said Bloom. “There are days that start with us thinking we might really have our teeth sunk in something and the day ends quietly. There have been days where it has been the reverse, that midway through the day, something develops and accelerates. Obviously, it hasn’t led to a major transaction for us yet, but the conversations have certainly been active.”

(Picture of Steven Matz: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox among teams interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, per report

The Red Sox are among a handful of teams interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, according to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio.

Per Torobio, Taylor is drawing interest from the likes of the Sox, Cardinals, Rangers, Giants, Marlins, and others including the Dodgers, who originally acquired him from the Mariners in June 2016.

After spending the last six seasons with the Dodgers, Taylor is now officially a free agent in the wake of rejecting Los Angeles’ one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer for 2022 on Wednesday.

Taylor, 31, was a first-time All-Star in 2021. The versatile right-handed hitter batted .254/.344/.438 (113 wRC+) with 25 doubles, four triples, 20 home runs, 73 RBIs, 92 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 63 walks, and 167 strikeouts over 148 games and 582 plate appearances.

In those 148 games, Taylor made 46 appearances at second base, 11 at third base, 23 at shortstop, 30 in left field, 62 in center field, and eight in right field. For his career, the University of Virginia product’s best position has been left field (+13 defensive runs saved), though he saw the majority of his playing time come in center field (423 innings) this past season.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on versatile players who are capable of playing multiple positions.

Taylor obviously fits this mold, as does his former Dodgers teammate and current Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston originally signed Hernandez last year to serve as their everyday second baseman, but he ultimately wound up taking over the day-to-day responsibilities in center field.

So, if the Red Sox were to pursue a starting outfielder such as Taylor, they would have the ability to move Hernandez back to the infield thanks to the flexibility of the 30-year-old.

Because the Dodgers extended a qualifying offer to Taylor, there is now draft pick compensation attached to the Virginia Beach native if another club were to sign him away from Los Angeles.

The Red Sox, for instance, would forfeit their second-highest unprotected pick in next year’s draft as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool space if they manage to sign a qualified free agent like Taylor. Boston did, however, gain a compensatory pick in the 2022 draft earlier this week when Eduardo Rodriguez signed a five-year deal with the Tigers.

After staying away from qualified free agents last off-season, Bloom and Co. have expressed an interest in pursuing those free agents with qualifying offers attached to them this time around.

With that being said, Taylor — a client of Meister Sports Management — is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a four-year, $64 million contract in free agency this season.

FanGraphs, on the other hand, projects that Taylor will land a four-year deal worth approximately $60 million. A steep price to pay for someone who turns 32 in August.

(Picture of Chris Taylor: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Seiya Suzuki, Japanese outfielder who Red Sox have ‘thoroughly’ scouted, to be posted next week (report)

Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki will reportedly be posted by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball next week, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Once posted, Suzuki would under normal circumstances have up to 30 days to negotiate with major-league clubs. However, because of the looming work stoppage, the 27-year-old and his representatives may only have until December 1 to talk with teams before the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires.

Per The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, Major League Baseball and NPB were at one point “close to an agreement” in which the clock pertaining to Suzuki’s 30-day posting window “would be stopped in the event of an industry lockout.”

So, if Suzuki were to be posted under this scenario next Wednesday, for instance, he would then have approximately one week to negotiate with clubs before the impending lockout begins. On the other side of that, he would a little more than three weeks to talk with teams once the league and players’ association implement a new CBA.

If Suzuki has yet to sign a contract with a big-league club by the time his clock runs out, he would subsequently have to return to Hiroshima for the 2022 season.

Suzuki, who does not turn 28 until next August, is regarded as one of the top free agents in this winter’s class since he has already enjoyed quite a successful career in Japan.

This past season with the Carp, the right-handed hitter slashed .319/.436/.644 to go along with 26 doubles, a career-high 38 home runs, 88 RBIs, 77 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 88 walks, and 87 strikeouts over 133 total games spanning 535 plate appearances. He also helped Samurai Japan win a gold medal in the Olympic Games over the summer.

A native of Tokyo, Suzuki is a five-time NPB All-Star who has won four Gold Glove Awards for his defensive work in right field. The 5-foot-11, 182 pounder has primarily been an outfielder for Hiroshima since 2015 and has drawn comparisons to Braves All-Star Ronald Acuna Jr.

Earlier this month, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox were interested in Suzuki and have been “thoroughly” scouting the international star.

When broached about this topic during last week’s GM Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran would not get into the specifics, but said that “we scout all markets, including the international markets, very thoroughly.”

Any club — including the Red Sox — that manages to sign Suzuki before his posting period ends would then owe the Carp additional compensation under the current MLB-NPB agreement.

According to Morosi, “the Carp would receive a release fee equal to 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed contract value, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million, plus 15% of any amount beyond $50 million.”

(Picture of Seiya Suzuki: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘among many teams showing interest’ in free agent infielder Javier Báez, per report

The Red Sox are among the many teams showing interest in free agent infielder Javier Baez, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Baez, who turns 29 next month, became a free agent in early November after spending the 2021 season with both the Cubs and Mets. He began the year in Chicago, batting .248/.292/.484 with nine doubles, two triples, 22 home runs, 65 RBIs, 48 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 91 games spanning 361 plate appearances.

On July 30, the Cubs traded Baez — as well as right-hander Trevor Williams and cash considerations — to the Mets for outfield prospect and 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Remaining in the National League with New York, the right-handed hitting Baez slashed a much-improved .299/.371/.515 to go along with nine doubles, nine homers, 22 RBIs, 32 runs scored, five stolen bases, 13 walks, and 53 strikeouts in 47 games (186 plate appearances) as a Met.

Upon arriving in New York, Baez had primarily served as the Cubs’ everyday shortstop. The Mets, however, moved the 28-year-old over to second base to accommodate their own star infielder in Francisco Lindor.

In total, Baez appeared in 100 games as a shortstop and in 35 games games as a second baseman in his time with the Cubs and Mets in 2021. He posted three defensive runs saved while logging 285 2/3 innings at second and another three defensive runs saved while logging 834 2/3 innings at short.

Because he was acquired mid-season, the Mets were unable to extend Baez — a client of Wasserman — an $18.4 million qualifying offer for 2022, meaning the 6-foot, 190 pounder does not come with any draft pick compensation attached to him.

A native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Baez is close with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who hails from nearby Caguas. Together, the two helped Team Puerto Rico win silver in 2017 World Baseball Classic, with the former playing for his island and the latter serving as general manager.

If Boston were to bring in Baez, they would acquire a very smooth defender who is capable of playing all around the infield if needed. He also represents another option at shortstop if Xander Bogaerts were to shift over to second base or exercise his opt-out after the 2022 campaign.

That said, MLB Trade Rumors predicted earlier this month that Baez would land himself a five-year, $100 million deal in free agency. FanGraphs, on the other hand, projects him to get a four-year pact worth north of $80 million.

(Picture of Javier Baez: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

What Red Sox gain from Eduardo Rodriguez reportedly reaching agreement with Tigers

The Red Sox may have lost Eduardo Rodriguez in free agency to the Tigers on Monday, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will at least be compensated for it.

Last week, the Sox extended an $18.4 million qualifying offer to Rodriguez, but the 28-year-old rejected it at some point during the GM meetings and remained a free agent by doing so.

Because they extended Rodriguez a qualifying offer, though, Boston ensured that if the left-hander were to sign elsewhere in free agency, they would receive a compensatory draft pick in return.

As it turns out, Rodriguez — a client of Mato Sports Management — has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers that includes an opt out after the second year, a no-trade clause of some sort, and up to $3 million in performance incentives.

Since Detroit is in line to sign a qualified free agent in Rodriguez, they will forfeit a pick. Boston, on the other hand, picks up an additional selection in next summer’s amateur draft.

According to MLB Trade Rumors‘ Anthony Franco, the Sox will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B — or somewhere in the 70-75 range — since they “neither received revenue sharing nor exceeded the luxury tax threshold in 2021.”

Over the summer, the Red Sox failed to sign University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian, who they selected with the 40th overall pick in this year’s amateur draft. As a result of failing to sign Fabian, the club will receive the No. 41 pick in the 2022 draft.

Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, this compensatory pick is protected, which means a team that signs a qualified free agent would not be required to give it up.

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox did not receive revenue sharing money or spend past the luxury tax threshold of $210 million this past season. In addition to getting a draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B next year, this also means that Boston would have to forfeit its second-highest draft pick if they were to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer from another club.

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, though, the draft pick that the Red Sox gained as a result of failing to sign Fabian is protected, so they would instead part ways with their third-highest — or another second-round pick if they were to sign a qualified free agent such as Justin Verlander or Carlos Correa.

Put another way, “the Sox will have both a first-round pick and, thanks to Fabian, an early second-round (No. 41 overall) pick in their draft” next year, per Speier.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez agrees to five-year, $77 million deal with Tigers, per report

Eduardo Rodriguez’s time with the Red Sox has come to an end, as the left-hander has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers. The agreement was first reported by The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen and was later confirmed by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, Rodriguez’s deal with the Tigers includes a potential opt out after the second year and contains up to an additional $3 million in incentives. It also includes a no-trade clause.

Rodriguez, 28, was originally acquired by the Red Sox from the Orioles in the trade that sent fellow lefty Andrew Miller to Baltimore at the 2014 trade deadline.

After making his big-league debut the following season, Rodriguez established himself as a key cog in Boston’s starting rotation, most notably helping the club win a World Series title in 2018 and then finishing sixth in American League Cy Young voting in 2019.

Last year, the Venezuelan southpaw contracted myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19, forcing him to miss the entirety of the compressed 2020 campaign.

This past season, Rodriguez returned to form for the most part while also experiencing some ups and downs. In 32 appearances (31 starts), the 6-foot-2, 231 pound hurler posted a 4.74 ERA and 3.32 FIP to go along with 185 strikeouts to 47 walks over 157 2/3 total innings of work.

Despite the relatively high ERA, Rodriguez still proved to be one of the more effective left-handed starters in baseball. Among the 18 lefties who accrued at least 150 innings on the mound this year, he ranked second in strikeout rate (27.4%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.43), per FanGraphs.

From the time he became a free agent earlier this month, the Red Sox had strong interest in bringing Rodriguez back on a multi-year deal for 2022 and beyond. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the club made several extension offers throughout 2021, but their one mid-season offer “was so far off from Rodriguez’s wishes that talks basically ended immediately.”

Ahead of last week’s GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., the Red Sox extended an $18.4 million qualifying offer for the 2022 season and the ISE Baseball client rejected it shortly thereafter.

Because the Sox extended him a qualifying offer, though, Rodriguez’s new club — in this case, the Tigers — now owes Boston compensation in the form of a draft pick.

By joining the Tigers, Rodriguez becomes the first major free agent to come off the board this off-season. He is also the first Red Sox free agent to sign elsewhere, as the likes of José Iglesias, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Garrett Richards, Hansel Robles, Danny Santana, Kyle Schwarber, and Travis Shaw remain on the open market.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez rejects Red Sox’ $18.4 million qualifying offer, per report

Eduardo Rodriguez rejected the qualifying offer the Red Sox extended to him last weekend, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, Rodriguez rejected Boston’s one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer during last week’s GM meetings and is now engaged with teams in multi-year contract talks.

The Red Sox initially extended the qualifying offer in Rodriguez’s direction this past Sunday, giving the left-hander 10 days — or until November 17 at 5 p.m. eastern time — to either accept it and remain with the club for an additional season or reject it and remain a free agent.

Since he has now declined Boston’s offer, Rodriguez is free to sign with another organization if he so chooses. If he were to sign elsewhere, Rodriguez’s new team would then owe the Red Sox compensation in the form of a draft pick.

Originally acquired from the Orioles in exchange for fellow lefty Andrew Miller at the 2014 trade deadline, Rodriguez has experienced plenty of ups and downs in his time with the Red Sox dating back to his major-league debut in May 2015.

Just two years removed from finishing sixth in American League Cy Young voting in 2019, Rodriguez missed the entirety of the compressed 2020 campaign after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following a bout with COVID-19.

This past season, the now-28-year-old posted posted a 4.74 ERA and 3.32 FIP to go along with 185 strikeouts to 47 walks over 32 appearances (31 starts) spanning 157 2/3 total innings of work.

On the surface, Rodriguez’s numbers — particularly his ERA — may not look all that flattering. However, among the 18 left-handers who accrued at least 150 innings this season, the Venezuelan southpaw ranked second in strikeout rate (27.4%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.43), per FanGraphs.

At last week’s GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran expressed an interest in keeping Rodriguez in Boston for 2022 and beyond.

To that end, Heyman recently reported that Rodriguez received a multi-year contract offer from the Sox in addition to the $18.4 million qualifying offer.

MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Rodriguez will net himself a a five-year, $70 million contract this winter, while FanGraphs‘ Ben Clemens projected that the  the 6-foot-2, 231 pound hurler could get a four-year, $80 million pact if the opportunity presents itself.

In addition to the Red Sox, other clubs such as the Angels, Blue Jays, and Tigers have expressed interest in Rodriguez, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

A client of ISE Baseball, Rodriguez does not turn 29 until next April, so his earning window is fairly wide open as he truly prepares to immerse himself in free agency for the first time in his big-league career.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Where do things stand between Red Sox and Eduardo Rodriguez as qualifying offer decision looms?

The Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Eduardo Rodriguez on November 7, giving the left-hander 10 days to either accept or reject the one-year, $18.4 million deal for 2022.

A full week has passed since Rodriguez received Boston’s qualifying offer, which means he has just three more days, or until Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. eastern time, to make his decision.

If accepted, Rodriguez would return to the Sox on that aforementioned one-year deal for the 2022 campaign. If rejected, the ISE Baseball client would remain a free agent, though any other club that signs him would then owe Boston compensation in the form of a draft pick.

In the time that has gone by since the Red Sox extended a qualifying offer in Rodriguez’s direction, the Venezuelan southpaw has also received a multi-year contract offer from Boston, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Rodriguez, 28, is just two years removed from finishing sixth in American League Cy Young voting in 2019, but missed all of the compressed 2020 season after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19.

This past season, the 6-foot-2, 231 pound hurler posted a 4.74 ERA and 3.32 FIP to go along with 185 strikeouts to 47 walks over 32 appearances (31 starts) spanning 157 2/3 total innings of work.

On the surface, Rodriguez’s 4.74 ERA may seem deterring. However, among the 18 left-handers who accrued at least 150 innings this season, he ranked second in strikeout rate (27.4%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.43), per FanGraphs.

Because of those improved peripherals, Rodriguez is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a five-year, $70 million contract in free agency this winter. FanGraphs‘ Ben Clemens also projects he could land a four-year, $80 million pact if the opportunity presents itself.

To that end, Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) during last week’s GM meetings that the club was engaged in contract talks with Rodriguez and that they “would love to bring him back.”

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom added on to that, indicating that the Sox were indeed interested in bringing Rodriguez back on some sort of multi-year deal.

“I think when there’s mutual interest in some kind of longer-term deal, it makes sense to talk as much as you can and to keep that line of communication open,” Bloom said. “So I expect that will happen.”

The Red Sox originally acquired Rodriguez, then a 21-year-old pitching prospect, from the Orioles in exchange for fellow lefty Andrew Miller at the 2014 trade deadline. As an impending free agent, Miller remained in Baltimore for just a few months before signing a lucrative four-year deal with the Yankees that winter.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, has for the most part established himself as a key cog in Boston’s starting rotation since making his major-league debut in May 2015. As O’Halloran alluded to, he is clearly someone the Red Sox would like to bring back for 2022 and beyond.

That being said, Rodriguez does not turn 29 until next April, so his earning window would still be pretty wide open even if he were to accept the Sox’ qualifying offer and set himself up to hit the open market again at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

If he elects to become a free agent now by rejecting the qualifying offer, it does appear as though Rodriguez already has a number of suitors. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on Sunday that the Angels, Blue Jays, and Tigers were among the teams interested in Rodriguez’s services.

Interest from the Red Sox and other clubs aside, Rodriguez is technically still on the clock as those involved anxiously await the result of his decision, which is due no later than Wednesday evening.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)