Dereck Rodríguez made his way to the Atlanta Braves during the 2023 season and logged innings in three games. The Braves became the third different organization he saw MLB action with and were his second organization in 2023 alone.
Rodríguez made his big-league debut in 2018 with the San Fransisco Giants after being claimed on waivers from the Minnesota Twins -- the organization that originally drafted him in 2011.
His rookie season has been his best to date, with him pitching 118 1⁄3 innings across 21 games including 19 starts while posting a 72 ERA-, 96 FIP-, and 112 xFIP-, all good for 1.9 fWAR. But, the xFIP came back to bite him later on.
He made 28 appearances for the Giants in 2019, with much worse results across the board in his 99 innings pitched, albeit with an xFIP that barely budged (from a 112 xFIP- to a 116 mark). After that, he bounced between the Giants, Rockies, Twins and Braves organizations.
Atlanta claimed Rodríguez on waivers from the Twins on May 15, after he had appeared in one game for Minnesota. The Braves designated him for assignment twice during the season, with him returning to Triple-A Gwinnett each time.
What were the expectations?
The Braves claimed Rodriguez for innings-eating depth. He had shown the ability to work as a swingman, but his results were generally hideous everywhere, including the minors, since that 2018 season.
Rodríguez appeared in Atlanta on three separate occasions during the season, each time in mop-up duty, before being optioned or designated for assignment. In his first two appearances — two innings in an 11-4 win over the Phillies on May 28th and 2/3rds of an inning in a 13-16 loss to the Diamondbacks -- Rodríguez didn’t allow a run while striking out a batter.
During his third appearance, he ended up “wearing one” for Atlanta as he gave up eight earned runs in two innings in a 16-2 loss to the Marlins on September 17. His aggregate season line won’t be posted here because it’s not safe for work, but suffice to say, he compiled -0.2 fWAR in just 5 1⁄3 innings.
What went right?
Rodríguez did make four MLB appearances on the season. His first two outings with Atlanta went well. Here’s him getting out of a bases-loaded jam with the Braves already down 6-0, in his first batter faced of his last outing with the team, before he got blasted by the Marlins:
What went wrong?
That last outing for Atlanta was ugly. He did give the team two innings, but he allowed the game to get out of reach and only threw 28 strikes out of the 54 pitches he tossed in that game. He also struggled in Triple-A between both the Twins and Braves organizations, with an xFIP in the mid-5.00s.
Here’s the start of the Marlins putting that game even further out of reach against him, before they really poured it on:
That is not a good place for an 88 mph four-seamer.
Rodríguez elected free agency after the 2023 season. Heading into his age 32 season, the son of Ivan Rodríguez will be looking to catch on with an organization via a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invitation.
Given his age and lack of recent success, he may find a difficult time getting a ticket to a Major League camp during the spring, but teams have shown a willingness to bring him in, so it is plausible he could extend his professional career next season.
There is no such thing as too much pitching depth, so a return to the Braves organization can’t be ruled out, but there’s also no reason to expect a reunion in 2024 given his on-the-field results in Atlanta and Gwinnett.