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The Downside To Trading For Wandy Rodriguez

Monday David kicked off the new year with a post about Wandy Rodriguez's trade value. He made an interesting point that I only glossed over at first, but begged the question: Has Wandy already peaked?

The general consensus around TCB seems to be that Wandy is a mid 3 pitchers in both earned run average (ERA) and field independent pitching (FIP). David pegged Rodriguez's future Wins Above Replacement (WAR) value in the 2's for the next couple of years, but I'm beginning to wonder if he'll be posting numbers in the sub 2's.That would certainly be a concern for teams and may be a reason why the trade rumors for Wandy have been light. Especially considering Rodriguez's option year will become permanent if he is traded.

2009 was arguably Rodriguez's best year. He posted a 4 WAR, a 3.54 FIP and a shiny 3.02 ERA in 205.2 innings. He followed that up with a similar campaign in 2010 with a 3.50 FIP and 3.6 WAR. His 3.60 ERA and 195 innings pitched were down but was probably attributed to his left on base percentage (LOB%) which dropped from 79.4% in 2009 to 69.4% in 2010.

This past season he posted a 1.5 WAR, which is his worst showing in WAR since 2006, when he posted a 1.1. His LOB% did jump back up to 2009 levels at 79.2% but his homerun flyball ratio spiked from 9% to 13%. He still pitched 191 innings and posted the lowest batting average on balls in play (BABIP) at .289, but the homerun rate really hurt him. His 3.49 ERA doesn't reflect the down year, but his FIP does with a 4.15. xFIP which normalizes homerun rates to league average gives a more positive outlook with a 3.72. xFIP is considered one of the better statistics at predicting year to year ERA for a player, so there's hope Wandy will bounce back next year. However there are some concerning trends with Rodriguez peripherals .

At 33 Rodriguez isn't necessarily old, but the age factor is no longer working in his favor. Across the board Wandy's numbers are in decline. His strikeouts per nine (K/9) have steadily gone down from his peak in 2008. Likewise his walks per nine (BB/9) have increased every year since 2009. His homerun per nine (HR/9) is also above 1 for the first time since 2007 and very close to the HR/9 he posted in 2006.

Bill James has predicted Wandy will post a 3.96 FIP and a 3.93 ERA this year, which isn't bad but it's clear that Wandy's better days are behind him. This does however give prospective trade partners pause when looking at the possibility of trading for him. Throw in that his option year becomes a guaranteed year upon the trade and you can see why the trade market for Rodriguez is cold right now.

Will he be moved? It's possible, but the trade and free agency markets are flooded with starting pitchers as good or better than Wandy. Iif Edwin Jackson and Scott Boras continue to ask for 15-17 Million there may be hope for Wandy yet.

With Spring Training quickly approaching and so many other options available it may still be sometime before the market for Wandy heats up, if it ever does. The Astros will have to eat quite a bit of salary just to get teams interested and even then they might not offer up much. At this point I'm leaning towards Wandy being in an Astro uniform come March, unless Jeff Luhnow happened to study under Obi-Wan Kenobi.