The Marlins informed reporters, including Daniel Álvarez-Montes of El Extrabase, that they have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with right-hander Richard Rodríguez. The reliever will receive a non-roster invitation to camp.
Rodríguez, who turns 33 later this week, has had quite a rollercoaster experience in the past few years. With the Pirates in 2018, he seemed to break out by posting a 2.47 ERA over 69 1/3 innings, striking out 31.5% of batters faced. The next year, his strikeouts dipped to 22.1% and his ERA jumped to 3.72. He got back on track in the shortened 2020 season with an incredible 36.6% strikeout rate, helping him drop his ERA down to 2.70.
In 2021, his strikeouts dried up again, dropping down to 22.8% in his time with the Pirates. He still managed to keep runs off the board, with his ERA at 2.82 when he was dealt to Atlanta. His strikeouts got even further away from him after the jersey switch, as he only punched out 8.5% of batters with Atlanta. He managed to post a 3.12 ERA in that time, but that was largely thanks to a .200 batting average on balls in play and 97.1% strand rate, with both of those numbers being unsustainably fortunate.
Rodríguez could have been retained for a couple more seasons via arbitration, but Atlanta looked past his low ERAs and decided to non-tender him prior to the 2022 campaign. While a free agent, he was given an 80-game suspension after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Boldenone. Once that suspension was served, he joined the Yankees on a minor league deal. He eventually posted a 3.96 ERA in 25 minor league innings, striking out 25.5% of batters faced.
For the Marlins, this is a no-risk move since they’re bringing Rodríguez into the fold without committing a roster spot to him. The last two seasons have been up-and-down for the righty but he’s not far removed from being a dominant bullpen arm in the big leagues. If he cracks the roster at some point, he still has a full slate of options and just over four years of service time, meaning the Marlins could keep him around if he returns to form. Rodríguez will try to crack a bullpen that features intriguing hurlers such as Dylan Floro, Tanner Scott, Matt Barnes, A.J. Puk and others.