Teams across the league have until Wednesday to decide whether or not they will tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. They don’t necessarily have to agree to deals by this time, though there is certainly some negotiation happening to at least get a sense of how far apart the two sides are. The Red Sox, as we discussed on Monday, have six such players they need to either tender a deal to or send to free agency. According to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, that number has gone down to five as he’s reporting they have agreed to a one-year deal worth $8.3 million with Eduardo Rodriguez.
Starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who missed all of last season because of myocarditis and COVID-19, has agreed to a one-year, $8.3 million contract with the Boston #RedSox in his final year before free agency.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 1, 2020
As Nightengale notes, Rodriguez was unable to pitch in 2020 after first being infected with COVID-19 and then having that lead to myocarditis. There is some question about how ready he will be for the 2021 season as he was unable to do even light exercise until October, but by all accounts he is progressing well. If things go as well as they hope, Rodriguez is likely to be one of the top two pitchers in the rotation, depending on who they add. As things stand now, he is the clear ace if healthy.
With regards to the salary, this was probably the easiest one to predict. In the linked post above, you’ll see that MLB Trade Rumors had this number projected for all three versions of their arbitration salary projections. The reason it was so simple is because Rodriguez didn’t pitch at all last season. If you’ll recall, Rodriguez and the Red Sox went to an arbitration trial last winter, and the team won. The final salary that was decided on was this $8.3 million mark. Salaries don’t go down in arbitration, so with him missing the entire season keeping that salary the same for 2021 made sense.
The only real decision to make here was whether or not they’d tender a contract, and given the team’s pitching woes the only reason they’d non-tender their best starting pitcher (not counting Chris Sale, who won’t be ready for possibly half of next season) was if they were concerned about his ability to get to camp healthy. That doesn’t appear to be a concern, which likely made this an easy choice.
The other decision they could have been considering was a longer-term extension. As Nightengale notes, this is Rodriguez’s final year of arbitration eligibility. He will be eligible for free agency next winter. They can still negotiate an extension throughout the winter and I’m sure there will be some talks, but given the uncertainty that still hangs over his health, I’d imagine those talks will be much more complicated than the ones to arrive at his 2021 salary.