Will Francisco Rodriguez be the Indians Closer in 2014?
The Cleveland Indians will use many different avenues during the offseason to improve their 40-man roster and build vertical depth in the minors.
Over the winter I will focus on all types of players from the Sexy List (top tier free agents who may fall to the Indians price range) to the Ruggedly Handsome list (players who multiple teams will be targeting) to the the Ugly List (players with easy to spot warts).
Today I’ll look at 4-time all-star Francisco Rodriguez.
List: Ruggedly Handsome
2013 Salary/Contact Status:
Francisco Rodriguez signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on April 17th which guaranteed him $2M when he made the Brewers roster.
Last 3 Seasons:
He began the 2011 season with the New York Mets appearing in 34 games posting a 3.16 ERA (15ER/42.2IP) and recording 23 saves while striking out 46 before being dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers where he finished the season. He joined the Brewers and was a setup man working in 31 games and posted a 1.86 ERA (6ER/29IP) while striking out 33.
The 2012 season was a bumpy ride appearing in 73 games and working 72 innings posting a 2-7 record with a career high 4.38 ERA while having a career low K/9 rate of 9.0. He did finish the season strong and over the final two months of the season he appeared in 27 games with an ERA of 2.81 ERA (8ER/25.2IP) striking out 26 batters while walking just 5. With a strong finish he figured to land another contract with a chance at closing in 2013 but was left without a team until early April.
On April 17th he signed back with the Milwaukee Brewers and reported to the clubs spring training facility for two weeks and then made four minor league appearances. He reported to the Brewers on May 16th and appeared in 25 games for the Brewers posting a 1.09 ERA (3ER/24.2IP). He had an impressive K/9 rate of 9.5 and a non-intentional walk rate of 2.2 BB/9.
On July 23rd he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles where he appeared in 23 games posting a 4.50 ERA (11ER/22IP) while striking out 26 and issuing 4 non-intentional walks. According to Comcast SportsNet Orioles Insider Rich Dubroff Rodriguez was always the last to arrive and the first to leave. According to Dubroff “for some reason, manager Buck Showalter never wanted to put him in when the game was on the line. ”
Terry Francona is known to be able to get the most out of his players and over his years has had his share of temperamental players. Francisco Rodriguez will turn 32 in January and will be looking to resurrect his career as a 9th inning reliever extraordinaire or at the very least prove to be a dominant setup man.
The Indians could use his experience in the back end of the bullpen and at a reasonable price he could be utilized in any role Francona sees fit. Most likely he’ll want to pitch the ninth inning where he’s had his most success while racking up 304 career saves. A pitcher with something to prove both on the mound and in the clubhouse would fit right in with the clubhouse culture cultivated in 2013.
Type of Contract:
Given Francisco Rodriguez’s past success and his relatively young age the Indians should try to sign him to a 1-year deal with a 2nd year club option. For 2014 the salary could be $4M with a 2015 club option for $5M with a $1M club buyout built in. The total value of the deal would be for a guaranteed $5M in total.
Other Ugly List Members:
Other Ruggedly Handsome List Memebers:
Tim Hudson – Previewed Here – Despite his age and ugly ankle injury last season the wily vet has been consistent his whole career. He’d be a nice addition to soften the blow of losing Ubaldo Jimenez and/or Scott Kazmir.
Bartolo Colon – Previewed Here – Why not take a chance on bringing back Bartolo Colon, a pitcher who has seemingly defied all expectations since returning to baseball in 2011? Even if he takes a step backward in 2014, he still makes sense as a fourth or fifth starter.