By: Will Burchfield
The Tigers might call on an old closer to be their new one.
General manager Al Avila told reporters on Wednesday night that the team has interest in free agent Fernando Rodney — and the interest is mutual.
Rodney, 41, spent the first eight years of his career in Detroit. He was a key cog in the Tigers’ 2006 bullpen that finished second in the American League in ERA. The bullpen hasn’t posted a top-five ERA in the AL since.
The closer role was in flux for the Tigers throughout last season. Francisco Rodriguez had the job to start, but lost it in May. Justin Wilson took over and pitched well, but was traded in July. Shane Greene stepped in the rest of the way.
Greene, who converted nine of 10 save opportunities down the stretch, figured to be the guy in 2018. But it might be Rodney instead.
The veteran racked up 39 saves in 45 chances for the Diamondbacks last season, good for third in the NL. His numbers weren’t exactly closer-like — 4.23 ERA, 1.19 WHIP — but Rodney has a knack for getting the final three outs. And he still gets swings and misses, even if he’s not the flamethrower he once was.
He would be a cost-effective stopgap for the Tigers. He signed a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the Diamondbacks last winter and could likely be had for a similar price this year.
With 300 career saves, Rodney ranks third among active pitchers.