DETROIT - MAY 01: Fernando Rodney #56 of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers during the game on May 1, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Angels 3-2. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
My first thought: I was all ready to hate this deal, but the option year has me intrigued. The Rays have obviously had success in the past in helping pitchers with control issues, and Rodney's control is the only real thing preventing him from becoming a dominant back-end reliever like Grant Balfour. He throws 95 MPH and has a good changeup. He generates 50+% grounders. He keeps the ball in the yard. His pitching profile is quite sexy....if he can learn some control.
If the Rays see Rodney as a fixable problem, then this deal could work out fantastic. Farnsworth and Peralta will likely be out the door after this season, so if Rodney does breakout, this deal provides the Rays with some back-end bullpen depth for 2013.
Of course, that's assuming the Rays can straighten out Rodney's control, which is by no means a guarantee. Remember Juan Cruz from last season? He was a similar case as Rodney -- older, Power Arm, control issues -- but had some extra injury concerns as well. He was somewhat successful for the Rays last season (3.88 ERA, 4.20 FIP), but he didn't harness that control and take things to the next level.
So that's how I see Rodney: he has the potential to be the next Balfour, but also the potential to become another Cruz. If the Rays can't fix his control issues, oh well, they only dumped $2 million into him. At the very least, Rodney should be a good low-to-mid leverage reliever in 2012, and this signing won't handicap the Rays in acquiring an offensive player this season or in their endeavors next offseason.
The Rays obviously see something in Rodney, and they seem to strongly believe they can turn him around. He's a gamble, for sure, but I'll trust the Rays' staff on this one. If they think they can fix Rodney, then I'm all for it.