One of the first decisions that the A's had to make this past offseason was whether to choose the $ 5.25 million Fernando Rodney option or buy it for $ 250K.
They chose the first and it has not paid off.
Rodney allowed four runs in the bottom of the 13th inning on Sunday, allowing a 3-1 lead to turn into a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The veteran right-hander has allowed 13 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings this season, which translates to an ERA of 8.78.
There were certainly warning signs that bringing Rodney back could be counterproductive. At 42 years old, he is the oldest active player in Major League Baseball. Despite a decent 3.92 ERA last year with the Athletics, Rodney's 1.60 WHIP and 4.52 FIP were worrisome, to say the least.
Rodney also had problems in the home stretch last season, allowing nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings during the month of September for an 8.38 ERA. He was unstable in the American League wild card game against the Yankees, and allowed two earned runs without an out.
For $ 5.25 million, Rodney seemed a risky proposition, especially considering the other talented bullpen arms of the A's. It is beginning to seem that bringing him back was a mistake.
The question now is where do they go from here? Clearly, you can not trust Rodney in important situations. The only reason he was in the game on Sunday was because Bob Melvin had already checked the rest of his available relievers.
At this point, the A may have to bite the bullet and appoint Rodney for the badignment. That's what they did last year with Santiago Casilla, who experienced similar struggles from the bullpen.
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Rodney's struggles this season should not take away his tremendous career. He has scored 325 saves in his 17 seasons, the 18th most in Major League history.
But the A's can not afford to have a steal of $ 5.25 million. If Rodney does not change things quickly, his career could end. In fact, it may be too late.