Friday, April 19, 2013

Francisco Rodriquez Reports To Maryvale For Work

Francisco Rodriguez
Veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez is back in the Brewers minor league system. The organization announced via social media on Wednesday that negotiations with their former pitcher were finalized, and that he would report to Maryvale for training immediately. Pending the outcome of a physical, the team now has a month to decide if they will retain the thirty-one year old, or if they will again release him to free agency.

Such a fate was Rodriguez’s last November, when he was refused a renewal of contract after playing the 2012 season in Milwaukee. Along with Shaun Marcum, he was part of the first wave of purges to that year’s bullpen, which was responsible for the most blown saves of the entire league.
The cuts came as a surprise to some, despite a tough year for Rodriguez, because the Brewers were risking the loss of compensation for the two free-agents if the signed elsewhere. Others weren’t so taken off guard, citing the reliever’s poor stats for the year, and his domestic abuse scandal.

Indeed Rodriguez did put-up his worst ERA and lowest strike-out totals with the Brewers in 2012, making some wonder why bring him back now. Officials with the organization are characterizing the move as a low-risk deal for the team, meaning that they are open to exercising him as added help in the current lackluster bullpen if he improves in Arizona, but are also willing to release him again if a better option opens up.
The timing of the decision is also telling as to why the Brewers are interested in the Venezuelan native. Entering the first round of in-season free-agent signings, teams from around the league are looking to bolster bullpens that haven’t been up to par thus far. In Rodriguez’s case, it is known that the Marlins and Angels were also in talks with his agent, likely concerning Brewers staff who didn’t want to pay more than they had to. A quick offer, reportedly worth two-million dollars, was enough bait to forego the other negotiations that would have taken valuable time.

Assuming Rodriguez does don a Brewers uniform before the thirty-day deadline, he would join a young bullpen that has had mixedresults in 2013. John Axford, once expected to be the primary closer, has had his struggles carry over from last season, and that has shaken up the pecking order considerably. Manager Ron Roenicke said that he is still trying to find the right fits for everybody now that it is clear Axford won’t be an anchor, and he hopes free-agent signings like Rodriguez’s will provide some progress to that endeavor.     

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