The 36-year-old Rodney revived his career over the last two years as the closer for the Rays. After posting an ERA over 4.00 for five consecutive seasons, Rodney finally found some control in Tampa Bay and rode a career low 1.8 walks per nine innings rate to a 0.60 ERA over 74 2/3 innings, 48 saves, an All-Star appearance and a fifth-place finish in the AL Cy Young award voting in 2012. Last season, he posted the best strikeout rate of his career, punching out 11.1 batters per nine, but his control regressed heavily and he ended with a 3.38 ERA for the season. With few other reliable closers on the market, Rodney appears to be the top reliever available, and Heyman expects that he will be the next player to sign.
With Mariners general manager Jack Zdurienick in the final year of his contract with the team and President Chuck Armstrong stepping aside, Seattle has had a strange offseason. After handing Robinson Cano the sixth largest contract in history, adding Corey Hart on an incentive-laden deal and trading for Logan Morrison, the team fell quiet on the free agent market as it searched for Armstrong's replacement. With former Executive Vice President off Finance and Ballpark Operations Kevin Mather stepping into the president's seat, it appears the Mariners are ready to get back to spending and the bullpen is likely to be a top priority.
Heyman points out that the Mariners were 19-29 in one-run games last season and their 6-15 record in extra innings was the worst in the game. Their bullpen posted the second-highest ERA in the American League last season with a 4.58 mark. They also had the fourth worst save percentage in the American League at 65 percent. Rookie Yoervis Medina was the only member of their bullpen to pitch more than 50 innings and post an ERA under 3.00, and three of the Mariners' relievers to top 20 innings pitched posted ERA over 5.00.
Heyman also notes the Orioles are still interested in Rodney. Baltimore had the second-highest number of blown saves in the American League last season, but their 68 percent save rate was league-average. The Orioles' bullpen was much better than Seattle's in 2013, with a 3.52 ERA overall. However, they do have a considerable hole in their late-inning outlook after trading away closer Jim Johnson to the A's earlier this offseason.