Dusty Baker would love for his Washington Nationals to add reliever Francisco Rodriguez — so long as K-Rod can replicate the form that made him a six-time All-Star.
Amid reports Monday that the Nationals may sign the veteran right-hander to a minor league deal, Baker said only that he had taken “calls from various people” about him and that nothing was official.
Does Washington’s manager want the 35-year-old for his struggling bullpen?
“It depends if he’s still K-Rod,” Baker said. “That’s what it boils down to. I’ll take Sandy Koufax, but he may not be the same Sandy Koufax.”
The Nationals could use a steadying presence among their relievers, who entered a game against the Chicago Cubs on Monday with the NL’s third-worst ERA at 4.88.
Rodriguez is fourth on the career saves list with 437, but he was released by the Detroit Tigers on Friday after posting a 7.82 ERA in 25 1/3 innings.
“It wasn’t an easy decision in the sense that Frankie’s got a long track record, he’s one of the best closers in the history of the game, over 400 saves,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters when Rodriguez was removed from the closer’s role in May. “It’s not easy to tell a guy that’s been so good for so long that you’re taking him out of that role for the time being.”
When Rodriguez was released last week, Tigers general manager Al Avila said: “It had to be done, in our opinion. We're still trying to win games and obviously, he wasn't getting the job done. It was difficult because he's a long-tenured guy and he's had a long, good career.
“We tried everything.”
In Washington, he would be joining a team with as many bullpen problems as the Tigers. The team bullpen ERA is 4.88 and the Nationals have 12 blown saves. The Nationals relievers have been so bad one fan, who died on June 20, had in his obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch he, “passed away peacefully at home after watching the Nationals relief pitchers blow another lead.”
Rodriguez is making $6 million this season. All but the minimum will be paid by the Tigers.
Even with Rodriguez, the Nationals are likely to be looking for bullpen help at next month’s trade deadline. One reliever they reportedly have an interest in is Tigers left-hander Justin Wilson.