ATLANTA -- An area of strength for the Marlins got even deeper on Thursday as they acquired veteran reliever Fernando Rodney from the Padres for pitching prospect Chris Paddack.
Sending a signal to the team, the league and the fan base that they intend to contend in the National League East, the Marlins brought Rodney's 253 career saves to a Miami bullpen that already is strong in the back end.
"We're able to shorten the game, that's for sure," manager Don Mattingly said. "We've been able to shorten it, in our minds, already. Now, it just makes it even shorter."
Rodney is expected to join the team in Atlanta on Friday.
Miami also remains in the market for starting pitching depth.
Rodney, 39, appeared in 28 games and notched 17 saves for the Padres. But it is unclear what his immediate role will be with the Marlins because A.J. Ramos is a perfect 24-for-24 in save chances, and he has matched the franchise record by converting 33 straight since last year.
"Right now, until we have a chance to talk to Fernando, there's nothing I want to talk about role-wise publicly," Mattingly said. "We'll make sure everybody knows what's going on, and we'll move on. I think we look at it as we just added a guy who has been rolling this year. He has a history of being really good late in games. We're looking forward to just adding that piece to our 'pen."
The back end now has Rodney, Ramos and David Phelps to cover the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, depending on the order Mattingly and his staff decide. Plus, the club has hard-throwing right-hander Kyle Barraclough, who has been handling the seventh.
Miami is also taking a page out of the Royals' playbook by getting as deep as it can with relievers.
"It just makes our team better," Phelps said. "That's all it really boils down to. We've seen it in the past. Kansas City was a perfect example what they've done the past two years to shorten the game, get to their bullpen. It takes some stress off starters and takes stress off our bullpen as well. In an ideal world, it plays out great. We're just excited to have another good arm in the bullpen."
Rodney is among the more entertaining closers, with his trademark shooting of an imaginary arrow after he completes a save. The Marlins witnessed that first hand on June 15 at San Diego, when Rodney picked up a save. But in that inning, Rodney also surrendered a double to Ichiro Suzuki, which was the 42-year-old's 4,257 career hit, combining his big league and Japanese numbers. Pete Rose is the MLB all-time hits king with 4,256 hits.
Rodney has been on point with the Padres this year, striking out 33 in 28 2/3 innings, and his WHIP is 0.87. At 39, he's still throwing hard. According to Statcast™, his two-seam fastball averages 95.06 mph, with the league average at 92.26.
"We've been in discussions with the Padres for the better part of a week," Marlins assistant general manager Mike Berger said. "It all came to fruition today. In our opinion, it strengthened a strength. That's the big thing. It's not as if we addressed an area of weakness. We have a very strong bullpen to begin with, and in the end, we got a little bit better. Just to make it deeper."
Rodney is making $1.6 million this year, and he has a club option for $2 million for 2017, so the team could have the veteran for at least a season and a half.
"When you can get a back-end arm like that, it's huge for the team," catcher J.T. Realmuto said. "Obviously, we've felt pretty good with our bullpen this year. Getting a guy like that only is going to make it even better, so it's something to look forward to."
Paddack, Miami's eighth-round pick in 2015, has dominated at Class A Greensboro. In six starts, the right-hander had an 0.95 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He hadn't allowed a hit in 15 innings.
"It's interesting," Berger said. "Eleven months ago, we removed a closer in [Steve] Cishek and getting Barraclough. And 11 months later, here we are adding a closer to a club that already has a very good closer. We loved him. Paddack, we loved him. Great kid. A guy that definitely plugs in as a, worst case, mid-rotation starter. I guess in effect, we traded an 0.95 earned run average for an 0.31."