By: Will Burchfield
Released on Friday by the Tigers, Francisco Rodriguez has already caught the eye of another team.
The Nationals are expected to sign Rodriguez “as early as Monday,” according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports:
“Former Detroit Tigers right-handed relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez is slated to pick his next big league club as early as Monday. As a result, “K-Rod” is expected to sign with the Washington Nationals, a source close to the situation has informed FanRag Sports.”
As Heyman points out, the Nationals’ bullpen has been a weakness. Their relievers rank 26th in baseball with a collective ERA of 4.88. (The Tigers’ relievers rank last, at 5.20.)
Of course, the addition of K-Rod might not improve the Nats’ pen. He was pummeled this season with the Tigers, surrendering a 7.82 ERA, a 1.66 WHIP and nine home runs over 25 1/3 innings. The team gave him every chance to work out of his struggles but to no avail.
For all his past success, the decision to release him was relatively easy.
It will be interesting to see how Rodriguez is used if he indeed joins the Nationals. The erstwhile closer vented about his diminished role with the Tigers earlier this month and is clearly opposed to pitching in mop-up situations. Heyman speculates he may have to endure a minor-league stint before landing a job with the Nats:
“Although the Nationals clearly need some help in their bullpen as the National League East club has been unable to find a bona fide closer, Rodriguez will likely be forced to participate in a few minor league games before heading to Washington. With that in mind, it remains to be seen as to what role “K-Rod” encounters upon ultimately landing with the Nationals.”
Only time will tell if Rodriguez can resurrect his career. Perhaps a change of scenery will serve him well. The 35-year-old has more saves (437) than any active pitcher and the fourth most of all time.
The Tigers are responsible for the remainder of K-Rod’s $6 million salary in 2017.