Tigers claim Dereck Rodríguez, son of Iván

September 1st, 2020

DETROIT -- The Tigers ended up adding a big-name pitcher before Monday’s Trade Deadline. It was a waiver claim, not a trade, and won’t help them right away. But the former Giants right-hander is a familiar name around Comerica Park, where his dad helped rejuvenate baseball for a generation.

The Tigers claimed Rodríguez off waivers from the Giants and optioned him to their alternate training site in Toledo. It’s partly a depth move, but it raises the strong possibility of the 28-year-old Rodríguez taking the mound at the same park where his father, Hall of Famer Iván Rodríguez, was on the catching end of great pitching for an American League championship team.

It’s partly a depth move, but it’s also a low-risk effort to get a pitcher on a bounceback. General manager Al Avila said the Tigers talked with former Giants manager Bruce Bochy as well as the elder Rodriguez to see what went awry in San Francisco and what could get him back in form.

“He pitched for Bochy and he pitched very well,” Avila said, “and [Bochy] raved about him as far as his makeup, work ethic, a guy that really competes well. I got to talk to Pudge today and he kinda gave me some insight on what he thought went on, from pitching really well to struggling. So we feel we have some good insight.

“I talked to Dereck myself. He seems really excited for a new opportunity and kind of changing the way he was doing things mechanically speaking. So yeah, there's upside to this one, and hopefully it comes to fruition.”

Rodríguez made just two relief appearances for the Giants this season, allowing six runs on 10 hits in four innings with three walks and two strikeouts. He was a midseason revelation as a starter two years ago, posting a 6-4 record with a 2.81 ERA over 19 starts and two relief appearances. He pitched in a swing role for San Francisco last season.

Rodríguez was just entering his teenage years when his father signed with the Tigers in 2004 and became the star of Detroit’s rebuild. Dereck spent many days around the ballpark and clubhouse with his father when he wasn’t playing baseball himself.

“When Pudge was here, he was just a little kid running around in full uniform and he would go out there and shag balls and hit in the cage,” Avila said. “He was one of those kids that was hanging around from time to time and grew up in the game and knows the game very well. He's got Pudge as a mentor, which has been great. They have a great father-and-son relationship. It actually makes it easier because you know the background, you know the kid, and you know he knows the game. It just would seem that there's a good chance and we're hopeful that we can get him turned around.”

The Giants designated Rodríguez for assignment last Wednesday. Avila said last Thursday that Detroit could make some subtle additions to add to its pitching depth after starting prospects Matt Manning and Alex Faedo were shut down for the season with right forearm strains. The Tigers had an open spot on their 40-man roster.