Francisco Rodriguez has gone from closing in New York to setting up in Milwaukee.
K-Rod, who had 23 saves in 26 opportunities for the Mets, was acquired by the Brewers with cash for two players to be named, the team announced after Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
“Francisco has been one of the best relievers in the game for many years,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin said in a statement. “He is a high-quality arm who will be a tremendous asset to our bullpen as we prepare for the final months of the regular season and playoffs.”
The assumption is that Rodriguez didn’t have the Brewers on his no-trade list and thus couldn’t block the deal that almost certainly will prevent his $17.5 million option for 2012 from vesting.
Rodriguez’s option would kick in with 55 games finished this year, which is the big reason the Mets wanted to move him. The Brewers won’t want to be responsible for that kind of payout, so they’ll use him as an eighth-inning guy in front of John Axford for the remainder of the season and then likely let him leave in free agency.
The Mets figure to turn to Bobby Parnell in the closer’s role as K-Rod’s replacement. The hard-throwing Parnell, who has one career save to Rodriguez’s 291, has a 2.92 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings this season.
In theory, Rodriguez’s addition will give the Brewers a pair of dominant right-handers at the end of games. However, it remains to be seen how K-Rod will react to the move. He surely would have preferred to remain a closer and probably only partly for financial reasons. It’s the first time in seven years that he’ll have had to work in a setup role. In fact, he hasn’t recorded a single hold since 2004.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.