Aug 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcherFrancisco Rodriguez
(57) pitches during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Francisco Rodriguez was a pleasant surprise for Milwaukee Brewers in 2014. After being handed closing duties on opening day, Rodriguez not only held on and excelled as the Brewers’ fireman; he even made the All-Star team.
K-Rod is a free agent and an interesting case for Milwaukee. There are a lot of reasons to consider bringing him back, but also a few good ones to let him walk. Let’s review the year and take a look at the pros and cons of brining back Rodriguez.
STATS & GRADE
Position: Relief Pitcher
2014 Contract: 1 year, $3.25m
2015 Contract: Free Agent
Rodriguez had a 5-5 record with an ERA of 3.04 to along with his 44 saves. He had 5 blown saves and finished with a WAR of 1.5. Each season K-Rod’s fastball seems to dip and this year was no different, now hitting around 90mph; however, he still strikes out 9+ per 9 innings and his control has gotten better and his K/BB ration is above league average.
At 3.25 million Rodriguez was originally brought on to pitch the 7th or 8th inning and close when needed. Once the decision was made to have K-Rod close his contract became a bargain and when he excelled it turned into great value for Milwaukee.
THE CASE FOR K-ROD TO STAY
At 33 years of age, Rodriguez still has productive years left to pitch. So far in his career he has been healthy and consistently able to pitch around 69 innings a year. Each year he is making more adjustments to ensure the inevitable loss of velocity doesn’t impact his success. Increased control and curve ball adjustments prove he can still be effective as a closer.
THE CASE TO LET K-ROD WALK
Ever since the Brewers signed Jonathan Braxton it has been assumed K-Rod is not longer part of Milwaukee’s plans and that the Brewers prefer more power versus finesse when it comes to the closing position. Salary is also a major factor. The market was not very open for K-Rod last season, allowing Milwaukee to nab him at “only” 3.25 million for one year. Given his success (he was an All-Star) and age there is no reason for Rodriguez to not look for a multi-year deal, somewhere in the 2-3 year range at 5-7 million per year.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
There are so many decisions to be made with this team that it’s impossible to know what will happen with K-Rod or where he even fits on the list of priorities. Rodriguez will be one of the more attractive closers on the market along with Jason Grilli, Koj Uehara, Rafael Soriano and Casey Janssen. His agent is Scott Boras which makes you think there will be no one year deals. Given Braxton is already signed for next year and the potential wholes the Brewers must fill; I expect an offer around 10 million for 2 years (5/yr). This may seem steep, but Rodriguez on your staff gives you depth and plenty of options, plus he is very familiar with Milwaukee and wants to play for the Brewers.
Despite this, I do not believe that will be enough to keep him and he will walk away.