Milwaukee Brewers’ Owner Negotiating Rodriguez Deal?

Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin tried to warn us the Brewers were in for a relatively inactive offseason. He was quoted as far back as November as saying “we’ve got a team that could play tomorrow” said during the Winter Meetings that finding some relief pitching would probably be the biggest priority for the remainder of the offseason. Other than the Adam Lind trade and Yovani Gallardo deal (which added Corey Knebel to the bullpen equation), the Brewers have signed lefty Neal Cotts to a big league deal and have agreed to minor league deals with former All-Stars Dontrelle Willis and Chris Perez. The Brewers have been linked to both Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies and the familiar Francisco Rodriguez this offseason, as well. While the Papelbon deal seems dead, it appears that things may be heating up in a potential pursuit of K-Rod.

On Saturday, it was reported that the Brewers would hold off on naming a closer going into camp. The Brewers have Jonathan Broxton, who has 118 career saves, as well as young flamethrowers Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress as likely the top candidates for the spot, with Perez and Jim Henderson dark horses to grab the spot. However, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel first reported that owner Mark Attanasio is in contact with K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras.

“I don’t know if it’s active, but we still have conversations,” Melvin said (of the state of talks with Rodriguez). “Mark (Attanasio) deals more with that. Scott (Boras) keeps calling Mark.”

Ken Rosenthal reiterated the news yesterday:

While I would like to see the Brewers add at least one more relief arm, I’m not overly confident in the 33 year old Rodriguez. He gave up a career high 14 home runs in just 68 innings pitches last year, and his 3.04 ERA was nearly a run and a half lower than his 4.50 FIP. With Rafael Soriano still on the market and someone like Mike Adams or Brian Wilson likely available on a minor league deal, I would not be willing to offer Rodriguez anywhere close to the $10 mil he reportedly is seeking on a one year deal.

The bigger issue at question here is that Scott Boras has completely gone over GM Doug Melvin and the rest of the “baseball people’s” heads and is dealing directly with principle owner Mark Attanasio. This seems to be Boras’ MO, as he has negotiated deals for Max Scherzer, Prince Fielder, and even the Brewers’ Kyle Lohse in similar fashion. It’s never a good idea for an owner without a sports background to become too involved in team operations; think Jerry Jones or Al Davis in football. While Boras and Attanasio have a good relationship, there are plenty of reasons to believe that GM Doug Melvin isn’t particularly interested in bringing K-Rod back to Milwaukee. Given the status of Doug’s contract (expiring at the end of the season), it’s interesting to see the owner take such a hands-on approach in pursuing a particular free agent.

It appears that it may only be a matter of time until Francisco Rodriguez reports to Milwaukee Brewers’ camp. Though it’s likely Rodriguez takes a step back in production, he’s still saved 348 career games and will be a less expensive option than Jonathan Papelbon, without the cost of prospect(s). I’m worried about the way that the deal is going down, however. Though Mark’s desire to win hasn’t ever been questioned, he was in stocks before he owned the Brewers. While the Lohse deal has been successful to this point, it can become dangerous when an owner becomes to involved with club operations. Please, Mark, leave the baseball decisions to Doug and his staff!