Thoughts on a Fernando Rodney Extension | The Process Report

Thoughts on a Fernando Rodney Extension

Depending on who you believe the Rays are either talking an extension with Fernando Rodney’s agent or the two sides haven’t talked at all. Should those negotiations arise they could provide another example of how economics force the Rays to operate differently from other teams.

Since Troy Percival’s implosion, the Rays have proceeded with caution in signing relievers to multi-year deals. Instead they’ve dealt in one-year deals with the occasional club option. Such was the original agreement with Rodney and others. (Sometimes, like in the instance of Joel Peralta, the Rays can mitigate the risk while maintaining flexibility by signing non-tendered relievers with multiple years of control left.) This offseason has seen the Rays do the unusual: bring back their own from the free-agent market. Still, look at the circumstances. Peralta all but gave the Rays exclusive negotiating rights and then signed a deal so team friendly that pre-arbitration players blushed (multiple club options without a buyout is unheard of for a good, established veteran). Kyle Farnsworth tested the waters and found them lukewarm before, in late January, signing a one-year deal to return.

The chances of Rodney settling on a one-year deal are slim and none. Peralta’s scenario seems more likely, but then how often do those situations play out? Even Carlos Pena finagled two better deals from the Rays than the one Peralta settled on. If Rodney and his agent eye market value then it seems like a guarantee that Rodney will pitch elsewhere come 2014. That’s no knock on Rodney; it just isn’t reasonable to expect the Rays to allot $10-to-13 million of a $60 million payroll on a player unlikely to pitch more than 60-to-70 innings.

And here’s where the economics of the Rays situation forces their hand. They invested time and effort to “fix” Rodney. Under normal circumstances they might value him more than they should. Consider the Dodgers and Reds, both of whom tweaked relievers they acquired midseason* before re-signing them to multi-year deals in the offseason. It’s the same phenomenon that sees you buy a fixer-upper, value it at $30,000, then, after the work is done, feel like $30,000 isn’t enough: The emotional attachment and endowment effect kick in once your fingerprints are all over the building.

*Brandon League changed his mechanics with the Dodgers and Jonathan Broxton added a cutter after joining the Reds. Both saw their performances shoot through the roof thereafter.

The Rays are forced to be professional flippers. They can’t have the emotional attachment because they aren’t able to. Perhaps with a larger payroll Andrew Friedman could re-sign Rodney now. But as things are the Rays would likely head into the winter with tentative plans to make Juan Carlos Oviedo the next Rodney, or the next Joaquin Benoit, or the next Farnsworth. Even then his stay would be for one year before the Rays moved on again.

Of course, this all goes down the drain if Rodney loves the situation enough to take a Peralta-like discount. You can’t rule it out given his certainty about a deal getting done before talks open.



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