Eduardo Rodriguez and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a $77 million, five-year contract, according to news reports. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Eduardo Rodríguez is taking his talents to Motown.

After rejecting a Boston qualifying offer (a one-year deal for $18.4 million) Rodríguez quickly came to a five-year agreement with the Detroit Tigers, according to news reports. It’s a good move for Rodríguez, who can reportedly opt out of the deal after two seasons.

It’ll be difficult to put Rodríguez’s Red Sox career in perspective. He was a durable pitcher who took the ball every fifth day. Remarkably, he made more starts from 2019-21 than any pitcher in the Red Sox rotation.

And he didn’t throw a single pitch in 2020.

Reaction from fans was a resounding “meh” when news of the deal broke on Monday. It is somewhat surprising considering the numbers point to him being Boston’s best starter over the past three years.

Rodríguez posted a FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 3.32 in 2021, tied for third-lowest in the American League. His wins above replacement (per FanGraphs) was 3.8, 10th best among AL pitchers.


Not a fan of new-school metrics? How about wins? Rodríguez went 45-19 from 2018-21, a winning percentage of .703 that was fourth-best in baseball of any pitcher making 75 or more starts. Over the past three seasons, the Red Sox went 46-20 when he pitched.

So why the lack of love from Sox fans?

It’s because Rodríguez could be frustrating to watch. He would slow the game down to a crawl at times, nibbling on the corners rather than attacking hitters. He rarely seemed to trust his stuff enough to go after hitters.

And there were the bouts of tipping his pitches. It’s something he fought throughout his time in Boston. And because of that he was seldom able to put together sustained stretches of dominance. The stuff was always there, but stuff isn’t enough when the hitter knows what’s coming.

For all that, he is only 28 years old and should be entering his prime as a pitcher. With a full season behind him he should be fully healthy and strong for the coming season. The Tigers need pitching, and they’re getting a lefty who should make 30 starts or more.

Meantime, the Red Sox must replace those starts. Garrett Whitlock, the Rule 5 pick who was outstanding as a reliever this season, should get the chance to pitch out of the rotation in 2022. Tanner Houck has shown dominance in stretches of long relief and should also be penciled in as a starter for next year. Nick Pivetta is coming off a 30-start season.


Those three, along with Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale, give the Red Sox a legitimate rotation entering the year. Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom will undoubtedly add depth to that group. There is a plethora of free-agent talent available this offseason, and several teams looking to unload starters as they approach arbitration.

But before we look ahead, let’s take one last moment to look back at what Rodríguez was able to do for Boston.

Acquired for Andrew Miller at the 2014 trade deadline, he helped the Sox make the playoffs four times, winning a World Series in 2018. His 64-39 record represents the fourth-best winning percentage of any Red Sox pitcher since 1961 (minimum 100 starts.) He made 153 starts before the age of 29, just the 13th Red Sox pitcher ever to do that.

In the end, he proved to be one of Boston’s best starting pitchers in recent history. The numbers back that up … even if most fans weren’t convinced by what they saw on the mound.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN.

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