Another team has made a trade for a closer. This time the Tigers are attempting to fix their bullpen, which has been holding them back for the past couple of seasons. Detroit traded closer Joakim Soria before the trade deadline in 2015 and the team really doesn’t have many other options at the back end of the bullpen outside of Alex Wilson, who saved two games last season and pitched to a 2.19 ERA. The Tigers still have work to do with the adding to the bullpen, but the Tigers hope that this will be a good start to that process.
Tigers Receive: RHP Francisco Rodriguez
Brewers Receive: Minor league infielder Javier Betancourt
On the Tigers: I definitely think that if the Tigers want to get back to the playoffs next season, they need to improve their bullpen. Experiments like Bruce Rondon and Neftali Feliz haven’t worked out, in addition to many of the team’s other bullpen acquisitions in the past couple years. Francisco Rodriguez had a really good season in 2015, pitching to a 2.21 ERA and saving 38 games. He also maintained a high strikeout rate at 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. K-Rod isn’t a power pitcher like he used to be, but he has a nasty changeup that gets a lot of swings and misses. Even though he isn’t the top closer on the free agent and trade market, see: Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Ken Giles and Darren O’Day. Rodriguez still offers the Tigers a good arm at the back of the bullpen and it gives the team a good start in fixing their relief pitching, while not giving up a top prospect in the process.
On the Brewers: The Brewers are clearly a team that is not expected to contend for the next couple of seasons. Francisco Rodriguez is going to be 34 years old at the start of next season, and while he is controlled for another two seasons, he is being paid $7.5 million this year and has a $6 million team option for 2017. I personally thought that Milwaukee could have gotten more value for the all-star closer. We have recently seen closers like Joaquin Benoit fetch returns close to this. Javier Betancourt was ranked as the 11th prospect in the Tiger’s system by Baseball America. Betancourt can play both middle infield positions well and makes consistent contact on the ball with a low strikeout rate. There isn’t that much upside to Betancourt because of his lack of power, but there’s a possibility that he could be a bottom of the order hitter in an everyday lineup. Overall, the Brewers were right to trade K-Rod while his value is still high, I just think that they could have gotten a little bit better prospect for a closer who has been pitching at a high level even as he gets older.