This MLB free agency class is dominated by two things. First and foremost, there's Shohei Ohtani. The Los Angeles Angels still hope to bring him back, but he could be wearing another uniform come 2024. The other thing is starting pitching. That's an area the Angels need to improve, and thankfully there are many quality options for them to choose from.
The Angels entered the 2023 season expecting a lot from their starting pitchers, but got mostly regression. Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers, Jose Suarez, Tyler Anderson, and even Shohei Ohtani took steps back from their productive 2023 seasons. There's a chance the first four bounce back on the bump in 2024, but that's hard to bank on and blindly trust.
Turning to free agency to add a frontline starter should be at the top of Perry Minasian's list after the obvious move of trying to retain Shohei Ohtani. While the big names of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery come to mind as ideal options, turning to a guy like Eduardo Rodriguez could be a better and more realistic option.
Pursuing Eduardo Rodriguez could make more sense for the LA Angels
Adding a frontline starter should be a very attainable goal for this Angels team. They need it, and they have the money for it. While the best ones would obviously be the ones we hope for, the financial cost it'd take to bring those guys in would limit everything else the Angels could do in free agency. Considering the fact that a lot of holes need to be filled on this team, that might not be the best decision.
Eduardo Rodriguez is projected to make $82 million over four years with his free agent contract. That might sound expensive, but it's really not. I mean, Lance Lynn just made $10 million coming off one of the worst pitching seasons in the majors. Starting pitchers make a lot of money, especially the ones with Rodriguez's track record. Additionally, Rodriguez does not come with the qualifying offer attached. The Angels can sign him without forfeiting a draft pick, something they cannot do if they go after pitchers like Blake Snell and Sonny Gray.
In 26 starts for the Tigers this past season, Rodriguez posted a 3.30 ERA in 152.2 innings of work. He had a walk rate of just 7.7% and a home run rate of 2.4%. Pitching at Comerica Park certainly helped limiting the long ball, but Rodriguez has always done that at a decent clip even dating back to his Boston days.
There's reason to believe Rodriguez wouldn't entertain the Angels because of what happened at this past trade deadline when Rodriguez vetoed a trade to the Dodgers, but he reportedly does not care about geography when making his decision. This could be a negotiation tactic, but could also mean Rodriguez would seriously consider a team like the Angels if the money is there.
He's 30 years old and would not require the same massive commitment the other starters would have. There's less risk involved, and with the Angels history of holding some brutal contracts, even if he doesn't pitch well it won't completely cripple them.