The AP and other outlets have reported that 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glover, and future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez has elected to retire after 21 big league seasons. This is big news as Rodriguez was an excellent player for a long time, especially during his 1996-2004 peak when he posted a .318/.360/.522 line (123 OPS+) with an average of 33 doubles, 22 home runs, and 83 RBI per season. But the timing of this is interesting: why did Rodriguez wait until mid-April to retire? The answer was that he was looking for the right opportunity to come back. Rodriguez denied an offer from the Kansas City Royals after their starting catcher, but he didn’t retire say at the end of spring training, but instead right now. Why? The Rays.
Rodriguez was hoping the Rays, who we know are a contending team, would come calling for his services. We know that the Rays currently have Jose Molina and
Jose Lobaton Chris Gimenez switching off at catcher, and that has gone relatively well so far even after Lobaton went on the DL. The Rays were confident enough in their group of catchers that they weren’t compelled to sign the 40 year old Rodriguez. We see from this that the Rays like their current situation at catcher more than the average fan does looking at the stats, and they were not afraid to refrain from making a move to bring in a big name starting catcher. The Rays are smart enough not to make a knee-jerk reaction despite having no true starting catcher on their roster, and considering Rodriguez’s OBP has been .295 the last five years and the Rays’ current catchers are playing pretty well, it looks like they made the right choice.