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Seattle Mariners Sign Fernando Rodney

Mariners NewsThe Seattle Mariners signed free agent closer Fernando Rodney, reports Jonah Keri of Grantland. Rodney’s contract is worth $14 million over two years, with up to $1 million more with incentives.

It was just two years ago that Rodney looked like he was washed up as the veteran reliever posted a 4.50 ERA in 39 appearances for the Los Angeles Angels, with strikeout and walk rates of 17.3 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.

However, the Tampa Bay Rays snatched him up on a two year deal worth $4.25 million, and he had a historic 2012 season. In 74.2 innings, Rodney pitched to record low 0.60 ERA, with vastly improved strikeout and walk rates of 27.0 percent and 5.3 percent.

Rodney wasn’t quite as dominant in 2013, and he had a 5.16 ERA through May. He finished on a better note, and by season’s end, he had a 3.38 ERA and 2.84 FIP with a 28.3 percent strikeout rate that was higher than the previous year. His 12.4 percent walk rate was more in line with his career norms than his exceptional 2012 season.

The soon-to-be 37 year-old Rodney still has excellent stuff. His fastball averaged a career-best 96.5 miles per hour in 2013. Couple that with an excellent changeup, and you get a 12.5 percent swinging strike rate. Given his control issues, he’ll walk too many for comfort, but he pays that off with strikeouts.

It will be interesting to see how the Mariners handle their bullpen. While Rodney has been a setup man for most of his career, he’s saved 85 games over the last two seasons.

On the other hand, the Mariners have hard throwing reliever Danny Farquhar. Though Farquhar had a 4.20 ERA in 2013, his 1.86 FIP and 34.7 percent strikeout rate are better indicators of his ability.

Regardless of how things played out, the Mariners bettered their bullpen, which was a weakness. Still, the addition of Rodney is likely not a move that pushes them into playoff contention in what looks to be a strong AL West.

Chris Moran is a third-year law student and assistant baseball coach at Washington University in St. Louis. He played baseball at Wheaton College where he donned the tools of ignorance. Contact him via our contact page or follow him on Twitter @hangingslurves