Francisco Rodriguez takes $3.5 million pay cut to avoid arbitration with Brewers

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Francisco Rodriguez was paid $11.5 million last season and when the Brewers tendered him a contract for 2012 they were risking his possibly being awarded a similar figure in arbitration, but the two sides have avoided a hearing with a one-year, $8 million deal.

That’s still probably more than Milwaukee wanted to pay for a setup man, but Rodriguez was excellent last season with a 2.64 ERA and 79/26 K/BB ratio in 72 innings for the Mets and Brewers.

Had the two sides gone to a hearing Rodriguez likely would have been awarded more than $8 million based on his 2011 salary and track record, but because it would have been a non-guaranteed contract the Brewers also could have cut him in spring training while being on the hook for just a fraction of that money.

At that point the market for closers and veteran setup man would be even more buyer-friendly than it is now, so Rodriguez might have struggled to find another gig for $8 million on short notice. Or at least that’s the only way his accepting $8 million makes sense to me.

Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio

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In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.

The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.

Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.

Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.

There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.