According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, one of the biggest priorities for the Angels this offseason will be locking up closer Francisco Rodriguez to a long-term deal. K-Rod is due for free agency after the '08 season, and the Yankees are already said to be eyeing him up as the heir to Mariano Rivera.
This year is Rodriguez's age 24 season, and he's already accumulated 100 saves. He's showing the best command of his career, though the side effect is that he's got the worst hit rate of his career. Still, 6.5 hits per nine is pretty damn good. It's also apparent that Rodriguez is allowing more flyballs than ever. Probably not a big deal, as his home run rate remains solid.
The elephant in the room, at least in my mind, is Rodriguez's delivery. Said Will Carroll in February:
"It's incredibly hard to predict player injuries, though if you were going to put money on anyone's elbow blowing up, the safe bet would be on K-Rod. There's almost nothing mechanically right with his delivery and he showed all sorts of indicators last year with a tender elbow, a forearm strain, and an obvious difficulty throwing his fastball."
This season, Rodriguez has experienced nothing worse than a hamstring cramp. I asked Will today: will K-Rod's contract extension bomb? Do the red flags he mentioned in the preseason still portend elbow surgery? Will likened Rodriguez to a lit firecracker that doesn't go off: "You'd sit and wait, wondering if it was a dud or a long fuse. You'd go up to it slowly, ready to dive away if it went off."
Will did point out that Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA system likes him - it suggests K-Rod will be worth anywhere from $10-15MM annually through 2010. Obviously, only time will tell.
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