Eduardo Rodriguez's free agency preferences should bother Dodgers fans

But that's not ... what you said ... UGH.
Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays
Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

His arrival in LA in the summer of 2023 could've changed everything. Unfortunately, he had no interest in uprooting his life to the west coast -- but has gained a sudden interest in such a move two months later.

When Eduardo Rodríguez turned down the Dodgers, sending Andrew Friedman scuttling into a few last-ditch conversations, it felt like Los Angeles was missing a golden opportunity to upgrade their rotation because of a triggered no-trade clause. Little did the denizens of Los Angeles know that Rodríguez would soon go from a luxury to a necessity. Due to Julio Urías' horrid extracurriculars and Clayton Kershaw's soon-to-be-surgically-repaired shoulder, Rodríguez wouldn't just have been a playoff arm for the Dodgers to lean on. He would've been their ace.

Who knows how far along the line Friedman and the Tigers really were before talks fell apart (feels like pretty far)? Regardless, the Dodgers engaged with Detroit in good faith, only to see a wall put up between them and the finish line at the most inopportune time possible. The gap between the Dodgers with Rodríguez and the Dodgers without him only widened as collateral damage hit the rotation in the second half. When the NLCS arrived, the Dodgers were further gone than a Lance Lynn gopher ball.

Now, as the offseason begins, Rodríguez has triggered something else: his opt-out clause, as expected, foregoing three additional seasons and $49 million. And guess what? He'd prefer his next contract to be ... in any geographic location across the country.

Yup. No preferences. After he shied away from the West Coast last summer (and demanded financial enhancements from Friedman).

Dodgers Rumors: Eduardo Rodríguez open to long-term deal (after, uh, not being open to moving in July)

"I HAVE NO GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTIONS IN FREE AGENCY!" Rodríguez screamed, several months too late.

The left-hander was wise to button up this particular message ahead of the market's opening bell. No need to restrict your destination pool too early. Perhaps he's telling a different story to teams once he actually gets in the room. At least he's getting ahead of things this time instead of dropping the hammer once significant trade talks have bubbled up.

Apparently, though, there was a tangible difference to Rodríguez between leaving Detroit in August and leaving Detroit in December, and the reverberations of that feeling altered both the Tigers' and Dodgers' paths. You can't retroactively make an NLDS start or add prospects to a rebuilding team's farm. What's done is done. The Dodgers should still be hot after E-Rod's trail, but the bell that tolled for Los Angeles after his fateful midsummer decision can never be un-rung.