10:30 p.m. EST update: A source told Venezuelan reporter Marcos Grunfeld that Francisco Rodriguez has accepted the arbitration offer. U.S. sources Danny Knobler and Jon Heyman haven’t comfirmed, but they do say it’s likely.
6:15 p.m. EST update: A Boras rep told the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt that K-Rod has yet to decide on arbitration. The deadline is midnight eastern tonight.
MLB Network’s Peter Gammons said differently yesterday, but FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal indicates that Francisco Rodriguez is likely to accept arbitration from the Brewers prior to the midnight deadline tonight.
Rodriguez had drawn interest from the Mets and Padres, but both of those teams have filled their closer’s roles in the last 24 hours. The Mets signed Frank Francisco for two years and $12 million last night, while the Padres acquired Huston Street from the Rockies earlier today.
Rodriguez doesn’t want to serve as a setup man for John Axford again, but with the closer market dwindling, he could stand to make far more money in arbitration than elsewhere. Rosenthal speculates that he’d earn $13 million next year that way. It’s possible a trade could follow; when Rafael Soriano surprised the Braves by accepting arbitration two years ago, a deal with the Rays was quickly worked out afterwards. As much as K-Rod wants to close, he probably wouldn’t stand in the way.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.