On Tuesday, the Braves decided to non-tender right-handed pitcher Richard Rodriguez. According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Pirates have definite interest in reuniting with their former closer.
Non-tendered last night by Atlanta, Richard Rodriguez is available. Pirates definitely have interest in bringing him back. We'll see if it happens. Certainly makes sense.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 1, 2021
The Pirates dealt Rodriguez to the Braves in July in a trade that landed the Bucs Bryse Wilson and pitching prospect Ricky DeVito. Prior to the trade, Rodriguez spent four seasons in Pittsburgh, compiling a 15-12 record, 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 196.1 innings. Rodriguez picked up 19 saves in his Pirates’ career – 14 coming this past season.
After the trade, Rodriguez posted a solid 3.12 ERA but that was backed up with an ugly 6.17 FIP. Perhaps the most eye-catching stat is that he fanned only nine batters in 26 innings with the Braves. The performance led the the decision to keep Rodriguez off of their postseason roster.
It still may be a worthwhile gamble to bring back Rodriguez who broke out as a dominate reliver during his time with the Pirates. Rodriguez himself enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh and the familiarity with each other could lead to a potential deal. Plus, the Pirates still have a need for a veteran arm in their bullpen.
The clock is ticking, though, as the CBA is set to expire as the clock hits midnight, and deals need to be finalized prior to that before the work stoppage kicks in. It is still possible that the two sides could reach an agreement once the lockout is over and a new CBA is put into place. If the Pirates did sign Rodriguez, they would have control over him through the 2023 season.