One of the first decisions the A's had to make this past offseason was whether to pick up Fernando Rodney's $5.25 million option or buy him out for $250K.
They chose the former and it has not paid off.
Rodney gave up four runs in the bottom of the 13th inning Sunday, allowing a 3-1 lead to turn into a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The veteran right-hander has now allowed 13 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings this season, translating to an 8.78 ERA.
There were certainly warning signs that bringing Rodney back might backfire. At 42 years old, he is by far the oldest active player in Major League Baseball. Despite a decent ERA of 3.92 last year with the A's, Rodney's 1.60 WHIP and 4.52 FIP were concerning, to say the least.
Rodney also struggled down the stretch last season, allowing nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings during the month of September for an ERA of 8.38. He was shaky in the AL Wild Card Game against the Yankees, giving up two earned runs without registering an out.
For $5.25 million, Rodney seemed like a risky proposition, especially given the A's other talented bullpen arms. It's beginning to look like bringing him back was a mistake.
The question now is where do they go from here? Clearly, Rodney can't be trusted in important situations. The only reason he was even in the game Sunday was because Bob Melvin had already gone through the rest of his available relievers.
At this point, the A's might just have to bite the bullet and designate Rodney for assignment. That's what they did last year with Santiago Casilla, who experienced similar struggles out of the bullpen.
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Rodney's struggles this season shouldn't take away from his tremendous career. He has notched 325 saves over his 17 seasons, 18th most in MLB history.
But the A's can't afford to have a $5.25 million mop-up man. If Rodney doesn't turn things around quickly, his career could be over. In fact, it might already be too late.