Free Agent Stock Watch: Francisco Rodriguez

Lurking among the ranks of the elite impending free agent closers is the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez, who in fact has served as a setup man (more on that in a bit) in Milwaukee since being acquired from the Mets in a midseason trade. K-Rod is an accomplished, compelling, and perhaps controversial figure, and his second venture into free agency should be fascinating.

Though he rose to prominence a decade ago during the Angels' run to a World Series title in 2002, K-Rod is only 29 (he'll turn 30 in January), so his new agent, Scott Boras, can still sell the right-hander as being relatively close to the prime of his career to potential suitors. And although Rodriguez's strikeout rates have dipped from where they were in the mid-aughts (from a high of 13.18 K/9 in 2005 down to 9.66 in 2011), he's posted sub-3.00 FIPs in each of the past two seasons, so he's still effective. He's just finding different ways to get it done.

In addition to having age and effectiveness on his side, K-Rod has also proven durable throughout his career, pitching fewer than 60 innings only once. However, that blip came in 2010 on account of an off-field incident in which the right-hander was involved in a violent altercation with his girlfriend's father. Rodriguez injured his hand, was lost for the season's balance, and forfeited a chunk of his salary upon being placed on the disqualified list by the Mets, his employer at the time.

It didn't do any favors toward changing Rodriguez's image as a volatile type, and though he reported to camp this spring in good shape and with a new attitude, he recently drew some criticism for voicing his displeasure about his role with the Brewers:

"I'm not fine," Rodriguez said. "They told me I'd have the opportunity to close some games, and we've had 20-some save opportunities since then and I haven't even had one."

As one AL exec recently told Buster Olney of, K-Rod's oddly timed comments probably won't help him in free agency this winter. So, where does all of this leave him?

Firstly, it seems highly unlikely the Brewers will offer Rodriguez arbitration, seeing as he earns $11.5MM this season. Most free agents typically eschew arbitration in favor of pursuing long-term deals, anyway, but it's a risk the Brewers won't want to take, because if he were to accept, he'd see a raise that would bring his salary to upwards of $13-14MM. That's a number Milwaukee won't want to pay, and since he'll be competing in free agency with the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Madson, Heath Bell and several other accomplished relievers, K-Rod might very well accept.

Instead, with his suitors limited in a deep market, K-Rod may end up seeking a one-year contract — perhaps to set up — so that he can hit free agency again after 2012, when the market won't be as favorable for buyer's (one executive even suggested this scenario to Jayson Stark of Last offseason, two righties with closing experience signed to set up. Bobby Jenks got two years and $12MM from the Red Sox, and Rafael Soriano got three years and $35MM from the Yankees. While K-Rod and Boras would be ecstatic with a contract like the one Soriano signed, that deal is probably the exception. The midpoint for Jenks' and Soriano's average annual salaries is roughly $9MM, and that seems a reasonable number for K-Rod's services on a one-year deal.

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11 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Francisco Rodriguez"

3 years 11 months ago

1/$9m would be a heck of a deal for some club. If he comes back and has a good year then you offer him arb, which he would probably turn down as he seeks a multi-year deal.

3 years 11 months ago

It would be a great deal, but I think that any 1 year deal he signs will likely prohibit the team he signs with from offering arbitration (like Takashi Saito’s current 1 year deal)

3 years 11 months ago

Man I hate krod. He was signed to a horrible deal, had to be traded if the mets wanted to have a realistic shot at getting Reyes back, and now, after saying he’ll do ‘anything to win’ before being traded, and now he’s complaining b/c he’s not pitching!! What a surprise! He needs to just sign with a team like the Yankees. The only thing they need to complete their roster is an overpaid, old reliever that might cost them a draft pick!

Oh yea…… bad…..

3 years 11 months ago

Their terrible farm system of players who haven’t stepped up this year and best record in the AL is crying because you, LGM, insulted one offseason signing that may end up working out when it matters most.

3 years 11 months ago

Shut up krod a hell of a pitcher than u will ever be

Frank Tangorra
3 years 11 months ago

I still think K Rod is a good closer. There was no way in NY that Alderson was going to let that 17 mill option happen. I don’t think hiring Boras as his agent was a good move. He is going to try and milk teams for the most money he can. I say he gets a one year deal and has to prove himself. Something he doesn’t like to do.

3 years 11 months ago

He’s a fastball/change up pitcher now.  A shell of his former self.

No way he returns to dominance.

 I put even money that he follows the Eric Gagne route out of the league. 

3 years 11 months ago

I see no reason for a 1-year deal for K-Rod. He’s turning 30, and he hasn’t stopped being effective. He’s also been healthy. Yeah, his stuff isn’t as good as it once was, but he’s been just about as effective at closing out games. Why does he need to prove himself?

I see a 2-3 year deal for KRod, $8-9MM per year.

3 years 11 months ago

I agree with this (and “Liked” it), but there’s a big problem — there may not be anyone out there who is going to spend the $27MM to get him for three years.  There just aren’t that many teams out there which (a) need a closer, (b) have that kind of money around, and (c) are in contention in 2012.

3 years 11 months ago

Yep. I don’t think taking the one-year deal would necessarily be settling – it’s just smart maneuvering. He can come back next year and be the pied piper.

3 years 11 months ago

If the Brewers have the guts to play poker with Boras, they can make a killing.

Offer him arb. Boras can be counted on to refuse, on general principles, regardless of the interests of his client. Ask Jason Varitek, among many examples, how that worked out.

Then the Crew gets a draft pick, K Rod’s market value takes a hit, and Boras looks like a fool.

No way that happens, you say? Boras accepts this time? Okay, let him. Settle with K Rod, or arbitrate, then trade him.