Whenever the 2020 Major League Baseball season begins, there's a good chance the Boston Red Sox will roll out a pitcher making less money than seven of his teammates.
It's a result of Chris Sale's elbow injury that Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to be the Red Sox' Opening Day starter. But Rodriguez quietly has done a good deal to earn that role.
The 26-year-old left-hander went 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA last season over a league-leading 34 starts, serving as the workhorse in an otherwise unstable rotation.
Rodriguez put up those numbers while earning just $4.3 million in his second year of arbitration, fractions less than prominent hurlers Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.
In fact, if you expand the scope to all of baseball, Rodriguez has given the Red Sox exceptional value.
With 32 wins since the beginning of 2018 -- fourth-most in MLB behind Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke -- Rodriguez has cost the Red Sox just $208,594 per win, by far the lowest among that quartet, per Boston Sports Info.
New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole is the only player in the same ballpark as Rodriguez, with 35 wins while making $20.25 million over the last two seasons.
But the 29-year-old just inked a historic nine-year, $324 million contract that will make him baseball's highest-paid pitcher in 2020, so needless to say, his cost per win will jump exponentially.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez still is on his rookie deal making $8.3 million this season and won't hit unrestricted free agency until 2022.
The sixth-year left-hander has a ways to go to become an elite pitcher -- he issued a career-high 75 walks last season and owns a career 1.296 WHIP -- but he's providing exceptional value for a club that's already focused on keeping costs down after trading away Price and Mookie Betts.