The Phillies signed free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league deal on Saturday, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The deal includes an invitation to spring training and could pay up to $3.75 million with incentives if he reaches the majors. The club has yet to confirm the signing.
Rodriguez, 36, was released by the Tigers halfway through the 2017 season. He eked out just 25 1/3 innings with the club, posting a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9, 8.2 SO/9 and career-worst -0.7 fWAR in that span. Part of his issues stemmed from a lack of velocity; only a handful of his pitches were clocked above 90 m.p.h. and he struggled to stay effective in a limited-time gig with the Nationals, who saw him in five total appearances for Double-A Harrisburg, High-A Potomac and Single-A Hagerstown before releasing him in July.
More recently, however, the veteran right-hander has made a concerted attempt to revive both his velocity and what remains of his major league career. He can check at least one of those items off his list: he reached 93 m.p.h. in a bullpen session earlier this month and may yet break camp with the Phillies, provided he can find a way to stand out in a group that includes newly-signed veteran righties Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.