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Breaking Down the Wandy Rodriguez Deal

Published on July 25, 2012 by in Features

I was sitting at a local restaurant here in Louisville following a walk-off defeat of the Web Gems, my softball team, when I saw this tweet:

I didn’t even click on the link, but I thought to myself, “That would be pretty cool. Probably wouldn’t cost too much, and we should be able to get Houston to pay some of his salary.” As I said, I didn’t click on the link, so I wasn’t aware of just how close the Pirates were to completing a trade. But then immediately after, there was this:


So I’m sitting there, now thinking, “Awesome, it’s done. This is a good thing. It solidifies the rotation. Who did we give up?”

Awesome! We just got Wandy Rodriguez for Robbie Grossman!


Then it was made official. Wandy Rodriguez for Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens, and Colton Cain.

First, let’s take a deeper look into Wandy Rodriguez. In his first four career seasons (’05-’08), he posted an ERA of 4.79. In his last four seasons (’09-’12), he has posted an ERA of 3.44. He is now 33 years old, but looking at just his fastball velocity over his last three seasons (89.6 mph in ’10, 89.1 in ‘1, 89.1 in ’12), he doesn’t seem to be showing signs of losing it.

His contract has him signed through 2013 with an option for 2014 and Houston is sending over money to help the Pirates pay that contract. He has about $3.5 million left on his contract this year. The Pirates will pay $1.7 million of that. Next season, he is due $13 million, but the Pirates will pay $8.5 million. In 2014, which is now a player option because of the trade, he is due another $13 million, but the Pirates will have to pay just $7.5 million. The rest will be covered by the Astros.

He is not someone who will be an “ace” by any means, but he is a solid addition to an already solid rotation. He will most likely take Kevin Correia‘s spot in the rotation and I don’t think anyone could argue that isn’t an upgrade.

Another factor to consider with Rodriguez is moving from the very hitter friendly Minute Maid Park to the rather pitcher friendly PNC Park. Jon Anderson from McEffect looked at all 17 of the home runs given up by Rodriguez at home over the past two seasons. Of those 17 home runs, eight of them would not have been out at PNC.

Now for the players going to Houston.

I’m not going to lie, I’m going to miss Robbie Grossman. He is an on-base machine and has a decent shot of being a useful ML ballplayer. He seems to now be fully adjusted to Double-A and has played better baseball over the past month and a half than he has at any point in his career. However, in order to get something, you have to give up something. Grossman is the main piece in the Astros’ haul.

Rudy Owens also gets sent to Houston. Owens faltered in Triple-A last season during his first season at that level, but has bounced back nicely this season. He is looking like he could become a #4-#5 starter in the Majors and I would expect him to join Houston’s rotation soon. Starting pitching at the Triple-A and Major League level is somewhat of a strength at this point, so losing Owens doesn’t hurt too much.

Colton Cain is a wildcard here. He was drafted in the 8th round in 2009 and signed for $1.125 million in a well-above slot deal. It’s really too early in his development to say exactly what he will become as he could be as good as a #3 starter in the majors to someone who may never even make the majors. Time will tell, but currently, the Pirates have a ton of Colton Cain-types in the lower levels, thus making it a lot easier to cut ties with him.

In conclusion, I’m happy that the Pirates acquired Rodriguez as he will definitely help the team. I am also happy that Alen Hanson was not one of the players included in the deal. I am also happy that the Pirates did not have to give up any of their “impact” prospects in the trade. I think it is a good deal on both parts. The Pirates increased their chances of making the playoffs and helping their current ML team without sacrificing the future and the Astros got a couple of players who are good bets to contribute at the ML level. It’s a win-win.

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