NL Central Notes: Rodriguez, Carpenter, Farmer (theathletic.com)

There is plenty of opportunity for hurlers to win jobs on the rebuilding Pirates’ pitching staff, and

(subscription required) breaks down the full list of arms in Pittsburgh’s Spring Training camp.  This isn’t to say that the Bucs are entirely done making moves, however, as Biertempfel names Richard Rodriguez the “Pirates reliever most likely to be traded this spring.”

Since signing with Pittsburgh prior to the 2018 season, Rodriguez has posted very strong numbers — a 3.02 ERA, and an above-average 28.16K% and 7.15BB% over 158 relief innings.  Home runs have been an issue (1.3 HR/9) and Rodriguez’s hard-contact numbers were among the worst in baseball last season, though he also has some elite (96th percentile) fastball spin.  Rodriguez turns 31 in March, but he is controlled through the 2023 season via arbitration, and is set to earn a modest $1.7MM this season.  There hasn’t been any public trade speculation about Rodriguez during the offseason to date, yet considering how the Pirates are open to discussing virtually player in the organization, it seems likely some teams have already been in touch about Rodriguez.  More talks could develop as Spring Training continues and clubs get a clearer sense of their bullpen needs.

Some more items from around the NL Central…

  • Matt Carpenter will not be spending time in the outfield this season, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told Jeff Jones of the Belleville News (Twitter link) and other reports. Now that Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are entrenched at Carpenter’s usual corner infield positions, there has been some speculation that the Cardinals could look for other ways to get his bat in the lineup. Since the outfield is a non-starter for Carpenter and NL teams won’t have a designated hitter spot, this leaves either a second base platoon with Tommy Edman or bench duty for the 35-year-old Carpenter.  The three-time All-Star has seen a steep decline at the plate over the past two seasons, and 2021 looms as Carpenter’s final year in St. Louis — the Cardinals have an $18.5MM club option for 2022 that seems almost sure to be bought out unless Carpenter has a major rebound.
  • Kyle Farmer was keeping one eye on baseball Twitter this offseason to see if the Reds would sign a shortstop, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale and other reporters, since Farmer was preparing to take a shot at the position himself.  After playing just one game at shortstop over his first three seasons, Farmer made 15 appearances as a shortstop in 2020, and still remains in the mix for at least semi-regular work among a group that also includes Kyle Holder, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Max Schrock.  (Jose Garcia is one of the few pure shortstops on the roster, though he is set to begin the season in the minors.)  Farmer lost 10 pounds and overhauled his swing this offseason in his bid to prove himself worthy of regular playing time, though his multi-position versatility already makes him a strong candidate for a roster spot.



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