2016 Fantasy Baseball: Padres Sign Fernando Rodney
Two of the three last big names on the free agent reliever market went off the board on Wednesday when the San Diego Padres signed Fernando Rodney to a one-year contract and the New York Mets signed free agent lefty Antonio Bastardo to a two-year contract. Technically speaking, the Bastardo deal was a larger deal and probably a more impactful deal in terms of real baseball, but fantasy players bow at the altar of saves. So, Rodney’s deal will be a bigger impact there.
Why the Padres made this move
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not really big on relief pitchers. At least I’m not big on them as it pertains to fantasy baseball. The problem is that there is a ton of turnover when you consider who ends up closing games at the end of the year. As much as executives like to think they are enlightened, the game really goes through cycles. Focusing on the pen used to be en vogue and teams went away from that. Now, the Royals have had two brilliant seasons in a row with a deep pen and everyone is playing copy cat.
Enter the Padres. They’ve essentially gutted their pen to save some money. Before yesterday, Brandon Maurer was penciled in as the closer. Even for a minimalist pen, that was frightening. Rodney has experience as a closer and was successful as recently as 2014. Last year saw him crash back to Earth, but he’s bounced back before from similar down seasons. Two million dollars is a reasonable bargain, and if he is successful they have an option for 2017. So, in essence, the Padres are acting like you should on draft day. However, I’ll expound on that later.
Why the Mets make this move
Bastardo is the rare lefty that can also get right handed hitters out. Like Tony Sipp before him, this skill made him very valuable on the open market. He can serve as the Mets setup guy to Jeurys Familia. At least, he will be one of the setup guys. The Mets fancy themselves as contenders and really needed to add some beef to the bullpen to realistically compete. Addison Reed will setup from the other side. This gives the Mets two solid setup men to go with Familia.
As for Bastardo, he has pitched to a sub 3.00 ERA in two out of the last three seasons. More impressively, since he has been up on a full time basis (2010), his fielding independent pitching figures have landed between 2.76 and 3.34 every season. As opposed to the Padres, the Mets are following the lead of the other major contenders by making sure they have the end of the game locked down. Now their talented rotation can comfortably pitch seven strong innings and feel good about winning the game.
What these deals mean for you
This does not effectively change the fantasy market all that much. When you look at the landscape there are between 20 and 25 closers that are worth adding on draft day. The rest are destined to be a part of a committee approach that will hinge on what happens in the early going. Fantasy championships aren’t won so much on draft day but on which players take early advantage of the waiver wire. Depending on the rules of your league, neither of these pitchers is truly worthy of being drafted. If your league includes holds, then Bastardo might be a late round option.
Instead, I would wait and watch the early season returns to see if Rodney has his mojo back. If he does then he is worthy of being added for the simple reason that 30 to 40 saves is difficult to turn down. Otherwise, wait around and see what happens with the rest of the relievers on the staff. Someone has to save games for that team.