Off and on, off and on.
That’s how the Padres’ off-season has been so far. After a quick flurry of trades earlier on when they sent Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Joaquin Benoit, and Craig Kimbrel packing, there was silence.
The team’s top questions, including who will play shortstop and who will be in the bullpen remained unanswered since the season ended nearly three months ago.
But as Padre fans have learned, there’s always something going on beneath the surface with A.J. Preller:
- two days ago, they signed veteran reliever Carlos Villanueva, previously of the Cardinals;
- yesterday, they signed Alexei Ramirez to play shortstop (see my earlier piece on him, and what this means for the direction San Diego is likely taking).
And today, it is being reported that they are close to signing Fernando Rodney, purportedly to be their closer.
Rodney, 39, has had an up-and-down career, mostly with the Detroit Tigers. In 700 career games, he is 37-55 with a 3.71 ERA, 685 strikeouts in 700.1 innings, 236 saves, and a 1.36 WHIP. His best season was 2012 with Tampa Bay, when he saved 48 games and sported a 0.60 ERA and 0.77 WHIP.
Last season, he split time between the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs. With Seattle, he posted a 5.68 ERA in 50.2 innings. However, Rodney finished well with the Cubs, surrendering only one earned run in 12 innings (14 outings).
Barring any last-minute changes, it looks like holdover Kevin Quackenbush (4.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP in 57 games) will be the seventh inning specialist, Villanueva will be the eighth inning go-to guy, with Rodney the favorite to close.
Since Rodney is inconsistent, we shall see how long this will last. I still think Quackenbush might be a potential closer, and so this will be a make-or-break year for him.
Another possibility is that Brandon Maurer flops in his audition to be a starter and is quickly returned to the bullpen, where he did very well last season (3.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 51 innings).
Either way, the bullpen picture, which had been clouded by the trades of Benoit and Kimbrel, is getting clearer.
In other news, the Padres have avoided arbitration with Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Drew Pomeranz, and Derek Norris, signing them all to one-year contracts. They will earn $9.625 million, $7.15 million, $1.35 million, and $2.925 million, respectively.