Where there is smoke there is fire. For a moment let's pretend that the whole Fernando Rodney contract extension talks are real and that he hasn't been catfish'ed by some clever individual who sounds like his agent and is romanticizing Rodney with fake 2-year 20 million dollar offer.
The whole rumored contract extension at the very least is an example of how hush hush an agent and team want to keep negotiations and how maybe the player didn't get the memo. A few days ago the news broke in a Dominican Newspaper called El Dia where Rodney himself was reportedly quoted as saying that a 2-year contract extension was all but done.
Fernando Rodney's agent Dan Lozano immediately came out to dispel the story and suggested that his client was misquoted by the article's writer. I'm sure we've all attempted to utilize Google Translator for a document, I even did it last year when it was reported on ESPN Deportes that Rodney had signed with the Rays. It is easy to see how things can get lost in translation but here's where the story takes another strange twist.
After Lozano ran the story of the misquote to the media he must have forgotten to call his client and let him know to keep things quiet because MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez spoke to Rodney (in Spanish) and he said:
"It’s in plans already,We’ve talked a few times, and I expect it to get finalized this month. We’re still in the planning stages, still negotiating. You know, these negotiations take time because you have to weigh all your options." When Gonzalez asked him if he was confident a deal would get finalized, Rodney said: "Of course."
The logical conclusion that can be made from all of this is that the Rays and Dan Lozano are in fact negotiating a contract extension - but why would Rodney not want to wait until after the season and shop his services on the open market? A big reason may very well be that the maximum dollar grab may be secondary to happiness. After all the last two seasons with the Tigers and his two years in Los Angeles were to say the least turbulent and last year with the Rays had to seem like a utopia of serenity in comparison.
Besides becoming the eighth different reliever to lead the team in saves in the past eight years he also set the all time record for ERA (0.60) for a reliever with a minimum of 50IP. He will be given the opportunity to once again be the Rays reliever extraordinaire in 2013 and to expect the same outcome may be foolish but he could still have a very good season and hit the open market for one final payday.
One may believe that Rodney feels underpaid at $1.75M in 2012 and only $2.5M in 2013 and he would be counting the days down until he had a chance to cash in. Instead we hear quotes from Rodney that he is close to signing a 2-year contract?
What kind of contract can Rodney expect? Since signing Troy Percival the Rays have almost worked exclusively on 1-year guaranteed deals but in some cases like Kyle Farnsworth and Fernando Rodney have included a 2nd-year club option. The Rays also haven't added vesting options into contracts for targets like games finished, saves, or innings pitched. If Rodney and the Rays are working on a contract extension Rodney would have to sign a contract that would fit the Rays budget and contract structure.
Since we don't know how the 2013 season is going to unfold for Rodney all he can be negotiating off is his 2012 season and the Rays history with avoiding long term contracts with relievers. As stated earlier, it is hard to see how the Rays extend the soon to be 36 year old Rodney for two more years at a cost of around $12M dollars.
One option that the Rays and Rodney may be exploring is a 2-year deal that increases his 2013 base salary from $2.5M to $4M with 2014 increasing to $5M. In exchange for increasing the 2013 portion of his salary the Rays get a club option in 2015 at the same $5M salary. The Rays would only be risking an additional $6.5M over the next two seasons and are essentially buying the 2015 option for $1.5M. If Rodney continues to perform well the 2015 option would be a nice luxury for the Rays.
The one thing that should not be overlooked should Rodney and the Rays reach an accord on a 2-year extension. It will most likely be creative and pay Rodney less than he'd get on the open market following another successful season as the Rays closer. The main reason any dialogue may be occurring right now is simply because of the outstanding environment created from the front office to the field staff which has led to a player finding happiness a point in his career where that may trump the extra dollar...which is a refreshing thought.