The Chicago Cubs acquired right-hander Fernando Rodney from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the teams announced.
The 38-year-old Rodney was designated for assignment by Seattle after a disastrous performance this season.
The Dominican native signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Mariners last offseason and it appeared to be a success in the early going. Rodney went on to be one of the best closers in the American League last year, working to a 2.85 ERA and a 2.83 FIP in 66 1/3 innings, saving 48 games in 51 opportunities.
This season, however, things spiraled downward. Rodney couldn't find his strikeout pitch--or his command for that matter. His strikeout rate decreased by almost three strikeouts per nine innings from 2014 and his walk rate spiked to nearly one walk more per nine. This led to worse results. Rodney posted a 5.68 ERA, but even more troubling was his 5.26 FIP over his 50 2/3 innings.
Rodney's ability to save games also fell off the table this year. He went 16-for-22 in save opportunities, with his save percentage over 20 percent lower than it was in 2014.
A pitcher like Rodney shouldn't really be valuable to the Cubs, a contending team trying to make a run deep into the postseason. But digging deeper, there is reason for hope for Chicago, and a way to justify making the move.
If anything, Rodney has been the same pitcher this year as he was last. His two-seam fastball velocity has been solid, checking in at 94.7 mph, exactly the same as it was last season. His changeup has a similar showing.
The amount of movement on his pitches has actually increased this year from last. However, he's still struggling to throw strikes with all his pitches. Hitters are swinging at a few percentage points lower at pitches outside the strike zone, so perhaps that has something to do with it.
Maybe Rodney has just been unlucky through his defense and home run rate. The former has actually not been the case, while the latter has. Rodney has allowed a career-high-tying eight home runs this season, which is a big jump from last year's three. His xFIP, reflecting upon this, is 4.63.
Rodney has some work to do with Chicago, but maybe if they can harness his control, he'll turn out to be a valuable member of their bullpen. With roster expansion coming up in a few days, there's no reason why they shouldn't give him a shot.