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Oakland A’s acquire Fernando Rodney from Twins

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Yet another closer joins the already stacked bullpen.

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s acquired relief pitcher Fernando Rodney from the Twins, the team announced Thursday. In exchange, Minnesota will receive minor league pitching prospect Dakota Chalmers. The A’s will need to make moves to clear space on their 25-man and 40-man rosters.

The acquisition of Rodney continues a spree of additions to Oakland’s pitching staff. Sniffing the distinct possibility of a postseason berth, the A’s are beefing up their corps of arms as much as possible. They already got Mike Fiers for their rotation, and Rodney will join Jeurys Familia and Shawn Kelley as newcomers to the bullpen.

Rodney, 2018: 3.09 ERA, 43⅔ ip, 50 Ks, 19 BB, 5 HR, 3.79 FIP

The 41-year-old has spent the year serving as the Twins closer, going 25-for-31 in save chances. He has consistently continued to find work as a closer on a variety of different teams over the last decade, and even at his advanced age he’s stayed strong in everything from velocity to swinging-strike rate to a low xwOBA. Oakland will be his 10th club in a 16-season career, which includes three All-Star bids, 325 saves, and an 85% success rate in save/hold opportunities.

In terms of stuff, the right-hander’s main offering is a 94 mph sinker that tops out at 98. He uses that pitch about half the time, with an 84 mph changeup coming a quarter of the time and a 95 mph four-seam filling in most of the rest, according to Brooks Baseball. His heat is down a few ticks from his prime, but he still throws pretty hard.

With Rodney on board, the A’s bullpen has an embarrassment of late-inning options to choose from. They were already stacked, with All-Star Blake Treinen, setup man Lou Trivino, and former Mets closer Familia. Now they’ve added a third pitcher who began the year as his team’s closer.

Going the other way in the deal is Chalmers. The right-hander was the club’s 3rd-round draft pick in 2015, as a high-ceiling arm out of high school. Unfortunately he hasn’t made much progress in the pros, and when he’s been healthy enough to get on the mound he’s struggled to control his powerful stuff. Last winter his potential helped him stay on our Community Prospect List at No. 19, but he’s spent most of this season on the disabled list at age 21. He was also charged with a DUI in May, reports Athletics Farm.

Hot takes

Once again, the A’s rent a quality reliever basically for free. The book isn’t closed on Chalmers, but he’s a lotto ticket at this point and not a big price to pay to bolster what might be a playoff pitching staff.

Rodney has often been a target of scorn on Athletics Nation, mostly because he’s played for so many rivals. He was on the 2006 Tigers team that bounced Oakland from the playoffs, he did a couple years on the Angels, and he spent a couple more with the Mariners. His over-the-top arrow celebration can get grating when you see it against your team enough times. But the fact is that he’s still an effective late-inning reliever, and the A’s now have three legitimate closers anchoring their pen without even counting Trivino.

According to Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, the corresponding move is “likely” to be Chris Hatcher getting designated for assignment. If that happens, then the pen will look like this:

  • Blake Treinen (R)
  • Lou Trivino (R)
  • Jeurys Familia (R)
  • Fernando Rodney (R)
  • Yusmeiro Petit (R)
  • Ryan Buchter (L)
  • Shawn Kelley (R)
  • Emilio Pagan (R)

Still only one lefty, but that’s an incredibly strong and deep unit overall. Better yet, the multitude of reliable options means that no one will have to be ridden too hard the rest of the way, and it also serves as insurance in case of an untimely injury.

My hope for this unexpected postseason run was that the A’s would find solid pitching upgrades without spending too much of their future, rather than going big on a splashy addition. That’s exactly what they’ve done, shoring up their rotation with a veteran arm and their bullpen with a trio of experienced rentals, all without giving away any major pieces or committing to any future salary.

I’ll learn to like Rodney’s antics now that he’s wearing the right uniform. The A’s got better again today.