Well, the Seattle Mariners still have holes in their rotation and question marks in their lineup…but now, they have a capital C closer. Seattle has reportedly signed former Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney to a two-year contract worth $14 million, with incentives possibly increasing the value to $15 million.
I don't understand why the Mariners spent some of their budget, severely limited after the signings of Robinson Cano (mostly Cano, to be honest) and Corey Hart, on a closer, especially one that turns 37 before Opening Day. Rodney's two years with the Rays have been the best of his career, as he's totaled 3.6 fWAR, 162 strikeouts, 51 walks, and a 1.91 ERA in 141 1/3 innings. But from 2012 to 2013, Rodney's walk rate nearly tripled, making 2012 look like the anomaly as opposed to the norm.
Rodney might not even be Seattle's best reliever in 2014. Danny Farquhar struck out 44 and walked just 12 in 32 1/3 second half innings, thriving after getting moved to the closer's role. Charlie Furbush struck out a higher percentage of hitters than Rodney, and walked a lower percentage. Hell, even Tom Wilhemsen, who fell apart after May last year, could be better than Rodney based on his excellent 2012.
But Seattle might not call it an offseason with just Rodney. They're apparently optimistic about signing Nelson Cruz, which would bolster their offense a good bit. And even though Cruz is a flawed player, he would have more of a positive impact on their 2014 season than Rodney, who could easily turn into his pre-2012 self and be a waste of $14 million. If the Mariners lose out on Cruz, and do so because of financial reasons, they should be lampooned for giving Rodney $14 million guaranteed when the team has bigger issues than relief pitching.