E-Rod to Tigers: Value in Detroit’s World Series Odds?

Eduardo Rodriguez With Tigers MLB Background

  • The Tigers and left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez have agreed to a five-year deal worth $77M as the first major splash on the free-agent market
  • Signing marks another bold move for improving Tigers club; more likely on the way
  • Is there value in their current World Series odds?

MLB free agency is much more of a marathon than a sprint, in stark contrast to the other three major North American professional sports leagues. However, the first significant signing came on Monday morning as a team on the rise addressed a need with authority.

Tigers, Rodriguez Agree on Five-Year Deal

Former Red Sox left-handed Eduardo Rodriguez and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a five-year, $77M contract as the first major bombshell had dropped on MLB’s free-agent market.

Rodriguez, 28, is the youngest of the high-end starters in this year’s free-agent class, and he recently rejected Boston’s $18.4M qualifying offer, meaning they will receive draft-pick compensation from the Tigers.

In short, the left-hander was perhaps the unluckiest starting pitcher in all of baseball a season ago. While he worked to a 4.74 ERA, Rodriguez put forth sparkling peripherals in the form of a 3.32 FIP, 3.35 xERA, 3.43 xFIP and 3.02 SIERA. He racked up strikeouts at a career-high 10.56 K/9, walked a career-low 2.68 per nine innings, resulting in a career-best 3.94 K/BB ratio.

Rodriguez also ranked in the league’s 87th percentile in hard-hit rate and 90th in average exit velocity, yet yielded a .364 batting average on balls in play, by far the worst number of any pitcher with at least 150 innings pitched a season ago. A defensively-challenged Red Sox infield certainly did not help his cause.

Rodriguez now slots at or near the top of a young Tigers rotation featuring building blocks Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Both Mize and Skubal made huge strides in the 2021 season, but the Tigers have injected plenty of experience — both in the regular and postseason — to front a rotation that will be without Spencer Turnbull for the season and left-hander Matthew Boyd for a good chunk of it after undergoing flexor tendon surgery on his throwing arm.

With a career 4.16 ERA/3.83 FIP across 159 appearances (153 starts), the Tigers believe they’re getting prime Rodriguez, a pitcher likely set for a major bounce-back in the ERA department if he can pitch similarly in the 2022 campaign.

Busy Offseason Expected for Improving Tigers

The Tigers might have gone 77-85 in the 2021 season, but that performance represented a significant step forward after the team paced out for 64 wins in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and won just 47 games in the 2019 season. Most major outlets had Detroit projected a Tigers win total in the low 60s.

The Rodriguez signing actually marks the second need checked off of general manager’s Al Avila’s offseason wish list as the Tigers quickly traded for gold-glove catcher Tucker Barnhart from the Cincinnati Reds shortly after the conclusion of the World Series.

With a front-line starter and much-needed, reliable catcher now in tow, the Tigers’ next major offseason need is at shortstop where it just so happens to a loaded, star-studded class that includes Carlos Correa who has been heavily linked to the Tigers due to their need at the position but also with former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch now calling the shots in Detroit.

Whether the Tigers land their shortstop before the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement on Dec. 1 at 11:59 PM ET remains to be seen, but the Tigers are expected to remain aggressive in adding to a ball club on the rise.

Value in Their World Series Odds?

Even with the Rodriguez signing, there hasn’t been an odds shift when it comes to the Tigers 2022 World Series odds.

On Nov. 3, the Tigers sported +4750 average World Series odds across numerous major sportsbooks, and they currently sit at +5000 over at BetOnline. After a major step forward in 2021 and a widely anticipated robust offseason for the club, their odds to win the 2022 World Series are far shorter than their 2021 odds where in the range of +12500 to +15000.

Comparable odds right now are the Cleveland Guardians at +4000, the Washington Nationals at identical +5000 and the Chicago Cubs at +6600.

The Tigers are far from a powerhouse even if they manage to land a player like Correa, but there would appear to be some value there. Hinch did much more than expected with a weak roster, pitching coach Chris Fetter did wonders with a young staff that endured more than their fair share of injuries, and the Tigers reside in the weakest division in baseball from a season ago.

EDGE WITHIN THE CENTRAL?
Only the White Sox finished above .500 in the AL Central a season ago at 93-69, and it was the then-Cleveland Indians at 80-82. The Tigers finished just three games behind the Indians, but since May 7, the Tigers went 69-61 with a +13 run differential. Their pitching staff ranked seventh with a 3.79 ERA in the season’s second half and the offense at least showed signs of life after a dreadful start to this season at 9-24.

As a result of all of the above, there would appear to be at least some value in sprinkling the Tigers to win the 2022 World Series as significant longshots. It would be shocking if they failed to land one of the numerous star shortstops available, but with their young players making significant strides and the coaching staff out-performing, they are not going to be an easy out.

Add in the White Sox as the lone .500 or better team from a season ago in the AL Central and the Tigers could gain strides not only in the division, but the Wild Card race as well.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.

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