By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The Mariners shored up the back end of their bullpen Thursday afternoon by reaching a two-year agreement with veteran right-hander Fernando Rodney for $14 million.
The deal seemed increasingly likely in recent weeks as the Mariners pushed hard to acquire a proven closer. It was first reported on twitter by Jonah Keri of grantland.com.
There was no confirmation from club officials, but the News Tribune and other media outlets soon verified the report. That suggests Rodney has not yet completed a routine physical examination.
The Mariners have no openings on their 40-man roster, which means they must make a corresponding move to accommodate Rodney when the deal becomes official.
Rodney, who turns 37 next month, spent the last two seasons as the closer at Tampa Bay, where he converted 85 of 95 save opportunities while compiling a 1.91 ERA in 144 games.
The Mariners targeted a veteran reliever after suffering 13 walk-off losses in 2013. General manager Jack Zduriencik confirmed, as recently as last week, that he still hoped to “add another bullpen arm.”
Rodney is the latest addition in an offseason roster overhaul that followed a 71-91 record and marked the Mariners’ fourth straight losing season and eighth in 10 years.
The club previously bolstered a run-starved attack by signing free-agents Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Willie Bloomquist and acquiring Logan Morrison in a trade from Miami.
The Mariners also remain linked to free-agent Nelson Cruz, who could fill their still-pressing need for a right-handed power hitter. Zduriencik admits: “It would be good to get one.”
The Rodney deal comes one week before the club’s pitchers and catchers hold their first spring workout in Peoria, Ariz. It includes performance bonuses, tied to games finished, that can add another $1 million.
Signing Rodney shifts Danny Farquhar back to a set-up role. Farquhar was 16 for 18 in save opportunities last season over the final two months after replacing an ineffective Tom Wilhelmsen as closer.
Rodney is an 11-year veteran who has spent much of his career as a set-up reliever with Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels before becoming the Rays’ closer in 2012. He is 29-44 with a 3.70 ERA in 563 career games.