Milwaukee Brewers: K-Rod signs one-year deal

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Francisco Rodriguez adds experience to a young bullpen (Photo credit: AP)

He’s back! The Milwaukee Brewers announced the signing of RHP Francisco Rodriguez – known as K-Rod – to a one year Major League deal on Friday.

K-Rod signs with the Brewers for the third time in as many years.

In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the Brewers designated RHP Donovan Hand for assignment. In his rookie season, Hand appeared in 24 games out of the bullpen and started seven.

General manager Doug Melvin had been in contact with K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras, throughout the last two months. In an interview with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Haudricourt,, Melvin said that K-Rod was on his radar from the beginning.

“I was interested in bringing K-Rod back,” Melvin said. “He was interested in coming back. That was one of the things about that. He likes it in Milwaukee. He enjoys playing there. We thought if the price was right this deal would be a good fit for both sides.”

K-Rod will get $3.25 million with a chance for $550,000 in incentives. The contract is below the MLB average of $3.39 million/year and in all respects, looks like a solid deal.

Although he’s only recorded 13 saves as a Brewer (one was his 300th career), he’s a veteran and has worked well in the setup role in the past.

K-Rod played significantly less last season than in 2012, but played better. He worked in 25.1 fewer innings – partly due to a strained groin – and posted a 2.70 ERA, while fanning 10.4 per nine innings.

Throughout the last two seasons, Brewers fans have learned not to put too much confidence in the bullpen. Relievers have been responsible for a league-leading 52 blown saves combined (2012-13) and in 2012, K-Rod was one of the main culprits. He blew seven saves and finished with a 2-7 record.

Last season began with K-Rod as a free agent, before he signed a one year minor league deal with Milwaukee in April. He served as the setup man to begin the season, but transitioned to his old role of closer, platooning with RHP Jim Henderson. As the closer, he showed shades of his early career, saving 10 games with a 1.09 ERA in 24.2 innings. But the Brewers’ dismal season led to him being trade bait at the deadline. He was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles in July and pitched 22 innings for the O’s in a relief role while finishing with a 4.50 ERA.

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It’s clear that K-Rod’s career is winding down, and Milwaukee may be his last stop. He’s a reliable vet that can still throw in the mid-90’s, but is susceptible the big inning.

The addition of K-Rod to the bullpen boosts the experience of a group that lacks it. Clearly, Melvin isn’t confident in Brandon Kintzler in the setup role. They will most likely switch off as the teams’ setup man, which is probably the best spot for K-Rod. However, if Henderson struggles to close games, K-Rod will get the nod.

The setup role is just one of the places there will be a competition in spring turning within the bullpen. With four spots seemingly locked up, it’s likely that three spots remain to fill out the pen.

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