Not much the Nationals do makes sense these days, but trading Ivan Rodriguez is a good idea.
With that the case and Rodriguez making $3 million, they’d be better off with the cheaper Jesus Flores backing up or sharing catching duties with Ramos; Rodriguez doesn’t have many years left and if he’s going to be a backup, he might as well do it for a better team than the Nats.
The Nats have no chance at contention and to play Rodriguez at all—even part-time—is self-defeating. Ramos is tremendous defensively and at age 23, his hitting is similar to Rodriguez’s. This is not the Ivan Rodriguez-MVP candidate from his days with the Rangers; he’s still solid behind the plate, but if they’re going for defense, why not do it with the future rather than a more expensive past?
The Stephen Strasburg factor has to be accounted for as well. One of the reasons the Nationals signed Rodriguez before last season was so he could mentor and handle Strasburg; Strasburg might not pitch at all this season and if he does, it won’t be until September for a few token appearances; judging from how cautious they were with the prized righty, the Nationals will take a more conservative approach as he returns from Tommy John surgery.
So what do they need Rodriguez for?
There are teams that could use him—the Angels, Astros, Padres, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Rockies would all benefit from his presence. He can’t play every day anymore, but he can catch and call a game as a part-timer/veteran insurance.
After the deranged contract they lavished on Jayson Werth, I hesitate to believe the Nats will do something logically sound, but trading Rodriguez to clear both his salary and the path for the younger catchers is a wise decision.
I published a full excerpt of my book on Wednesday here.