Has Fernando Rodney discovered the fountain of youth? The 39-year-old closer has still yet to allow a single run to score off of him and maintains a 0.00 ERA and a 0.929 WHIP thus far in the 2016 season. He has been as reliable as they come and the San Diego Padres could not be anymore thrilled about it.
When the Padres traded away Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit there was a big hole left in the bullpen. Kimbrel and Benoit are great relievers and losing them both appeared to be a catastrophe. A.J. Preller took a lot of heat for moving the two men, but he got a nice package of prospects in return. That is not debatable.
Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, Carlos Asuaje, Enyel De Los Santos and Nelson Ward strengthen the Padres minor league system now and into the future. Those six prospects are highly touted and could eventually be key contributors at the major league level. Not to mention the money saved from dealing Kimbrel and Benoit. The Padres saved over $32 million for the next two years in the deal.
The Padres were in the market for a closer this past offseason. The team wanted an inexpensive option at the position and found one in Fernando Rodney. He was inked to a deal for $1.6 million this season with a team option for $2 million for the 2017 season. Rodney was coming off a disappointing year in 2015 where he recorded a 4.74 ERA in 68 games and managed only 16 saves on the year.
The 2015 season started out terribly for Rodney. The Mariners were supposed to be a powerhouse contending team. They however got off to a horrible start and the team was deemed a failure pretty early in the season. Rodney was pounded to the tune of a 5.68 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP with the M’s. His walk rate skyrocketed to 4.4 batters per nine innings and he lost his job as the teams closer. For the 38-year-old Rodney (at the time) it looked like his career might be over.
An August trade to the Chicago Cubs seemed to revitalize Fernando Rodney. Perhaps it was getting a chance to be managed by his old manager and friend Joe Maddon. The energetic manager is known for keeping a loose clubhouse and Rodney is well-known for being a clubhouse clown. Rodney threw in 14 games for the Cubs only allowing one run earned run on eight hits. He would finish with a 0.75 ERA and earned four saves for the club in September. Rodney had gotten his swagger back and the Padres wisely decided to take a chance on him this offseason.
So far in 2016 he has been dominant going 10 for 10 in save opportunities. Once Rodney was signed by the team there were grumblings among the fan base, but now there is nothing but respect. His victory celebration and sideways hat are fun and in the game of baseball teams need more fun. Matt Kemp recently was on a MLB network program and confessed that Rodney is quickly becoming one of his favorite teammates of all-time.
Fernando Rodney enjoys himself and loves keeping his team loose. The Padres may have found a solution at the position for the next year or two. Rodney has 14 years of major league service time. He has over 700 innings on his arm. There is no reason he cannot pitch into his 40’s especially because he relies so heavily on his changeup. For now Padre fans will just enjoy the celebration and keep on watching him shoot for the stars.