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Aug 17, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (57) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Red Sox locked up one of the top spots in their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to an arbitration-avoiding deal with Eduardo Rodriguez.

First reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, it’s a one-year, $8.3 million dollar contract for Rodriguez. Pending a long-term extension, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career after this season.

Rodriguez was supposed to be the Red Sox Opening Day starter last season. However, he contracted COVID-19 before the league restarted. That led to a heart condition called myocarditis, which cost him his 2020 season.

Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 24, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 24, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

By all reports, Rodriguez is now healthy and should be able to start 2021 on time. With Chris Sale not expected to return from Tommy John until the summer, he can be penciled in as the Sox top starter.

His last fully healthy season was also his best. He went 19-6 in 2019 with a 3.81 ERA, and finished sixth in Cy Young voting at the age of 26.

MORE: Red Sox interested in free agent J.A. Happ

If Rodriguez can put together a similar season in 2021, he’ll likely be looking at a big pay day next winter. Could it come from the Red Sox? He’s expressed interest in remaining with the club, recently telling Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, “I want to play in Boston forever. That’s where I got to the big leagues. That’s where I got an opportunity. That’s my family. That’s a ballpark where I really love to pitch — the history, everything.”

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.