The rumors out of Detroit are that the Tigers do not plan on picking up Ivan Rodriquez's 9 million dollar option for next season. If the Tigers do allow "Pudge" to go, the Rays need to make him one of their top priorities of the off season.
While he is not the same player he was a couple of years ago, Pudge is still one of the best catchers in the league. He has already worked magic with two young staffs with the Marlins and Tigers. Possibly the most important person on the baseball field is the catcher. He sets the defense, works with the pitchers, and keeps guys from stealing and getting into scoring position. Scott Kazmir has asked for veteran help, and this would be the perfect move.
Pudge one of the leagues youngest staffs when he was with both the Tigers and the Marlins, but they had their best years with him behind the plate. Both teams were terrible the year before Pudge go there, but made runs immediately after getting him on the team. While it was not all Pudge that did this for him, he was a huge part of why those teams made the runs they did. Ask any pitcher that Pudge has caught for and that guy will tell you exactly what Pudge does for a team and a pitching staff everyday.
Pudge is not only great with the pitchers about their pitches, but also has a cannon for an arm and may be the best defensive catcher in the league still. No one wants to run on him and he does not allow many pass balls. Pitchers feel comfortable with him behind the plate and go out to the mound focused on pitching and not worrying about anything else. He is getting older and is not in his prime, but he is still one of the best and a great upgrade for the Rays. His offense has declined recently, but he is still a much better hitter than Dioner Navarro.
The Rays young staff would listen to Pudge not only out on the field, but also in the clubhouse and during pitching sessions. It is like having another coach out on the field and on the team everyday he is with the team. The Rays know they need to address the pitching and get a veteran on the team. Acquiring Pudge would help both of those things out. They would still need to get another arm in the pen and maybe a starter, but Pudge himself will lower the team ERA a point. The Rays won't have to pay him 9 million, but may need to shell out a decent amount to get him here. He is worth it and not only will it help the team, but it will show fans they are serious about winning.