The Phillies have signed reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (Twitter links). Rodriguez will make $2.5MM plus incentives if he earns a spot on Philadelphia’s roster.
The 36-year-old K-Rod brings 437 career saves and a lifetime 2.86 ERA to the table, though he’s now forced to rebuild his stock after a disastrous 2017 in which he managed the worst velocity of his career. In 25 1/3 innings with the Tigers, Rodriguez pitched to an unsightly 7.82 ERA despite passable strikeout and walk rates (8.17 K/9, 3.91 BB/9). A career-low groundball rate (30.1 percent) and home run issues (3.2 per nine) helped lead to Rodriguez’s undoing in Detroit, which released him in late June. Rodriguez caught on with the Nationals a few days later, though the organization cut him in mid-July after he totaled a mere five innings in its minor league system.
Although last year was a nightmare for Rodriguez, he’s not far removed from a quality 2016 campaign in which he logged a 3.24 ERA over 58 1/3 innings with the Tigers. That season also saw Rodriguez register the highest grounder rate of his career (54.7 percent) and convert 44 of 49 save opportunities.
Rodriguez recently topped out at 93 mph while throwing for scouts, easily trumping last year’s high-80s and leading to offers from the Phillies and other clubs, per Heyman. If those gains stick, Rodriguez could emerge as a useful piece for a Phillies team whose bullpen welcomed a pair of pricey free agents – Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter – earlier this winter.