With the Marlins currently occupying a wild-card spot spot and in the hunt for their first playoff berth since 2003, Miami swung a trade with the Padres for closer Fernando Rodney on Thursday in exchange for highly-regarded minor league righthander Chris Paddack. Rodney, a 14-year veteran, signed an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Padres in the offseason and has been one of the majors’ top closers, converting all 17 of his save chances and allowing one earned run in 28 2/3 innings. Paddack has been one of the minors’ most dominant pitchers this season, going 2-0, 0.95 in six starts for low Class A Greensboro with 48 strikeouts and just two walks in 28 1/3 innings. Padres general manager A.J. Preller told reporters on a conference call, “There was quite a bit of interest (in Rodney), but the one thing with the Marlins was they were most aggressive ... We had probably about 10 calls from different teams, but they were really the team talking players, putting out offers. “We’ve had some conversations over last month, and then in the last 10 days it started getting more serious.”
Paddack was considered a promising but potentially expensive signing in the 2015 draft as he was committed to Texas A&M. The Marlins drafted him in the eighth round but signed him for $400,000, which is fourth-round money. The 6-foot-4 righthander had been carving up the low Class A South Atlantic League. His debut was delayed until late-May after a nagging injury kept him back. Since arriving with Greensboro, he's been gangbusters. In fact, he hasn't allowed a hit in his last 15 1/3 innings. He operates primarily with a lively fastball in the 88-92 mph range and has touched as high as 95 in the past, but his deceptive delivery and ability to spot the ball helps the pitch play up. That effect is amplified by a changeup in the high-70s that gets swings and misses. He also a throws a curveball, but the pitch isn't at the level of his two primary offerings just yet although multiple scouts say it flashes at least average. Overall, he's allowed just nine hits in 28 innings and has fanned 48 against just two walks. “He’s a guy we’ve had highlighted since last year when he had a great start in pro ball,” Preller said. “Good summer there at the end and we kind of targeted him coming into the year. Last four or five starts (four of our scouts) saw him and obviously the results speak for themselves. Big body, the fastball plays, the changeup is a really good pitch for him. When you combine that with some of the off-field stuff you’ve been hearing, great makeup, he was kind of at the top of the list for us.”
Rodney is a very durable reliever who has found the pitching environment of Petco Park well-suited to his approach. His fastball has lost a touch off his peak velocity, but he still sits at 94-95 mph and he mixes in a low-80s changeup that has long been an above-average offering. Rodney slots into a Marlins bullpen that ranks 13th in the majors with a 3.78 ERA, although it’s unclear if he will close with A.J. Ramos, second in the National League with 24 saves, currently occupying that role.