It appears to be a near certainty that the Baltimore Orioles will add at least one more reliever before the team reports for Spring Training and it seems as though the organization has maintained an interest in bringing Francisco Rodriguez back for another year. MASN’s Roch Kubatko suggests that the team could be viewing the right-hander as insurance for the closer’s role, should Tommy Hunter (the clear internal favorite for the role) struggle.
Kubatko hears that the Orioles have had some discussions with Rodriguez’ representatives, but it’s unclear if the two sides are close to a deal.
Rodriguez split the 2013 season between the Milwaukee Brewers and Orioles, coming to Baltimore in a late July trade. In 46.2 IP on the year he posted a 2.70 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, and 10.4 K/9. Rodriguez was also a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities with the Brewers, but failed to get any chances in Baltimore to finish out a game. He’d likely slide into a setup role in front of Hunter, but given his vast experience as a closer (304 career saves, including an MLB-record 62 in 2008) he’d easily be able to step in should Hunter (who just transitioned to the bullpen full time this past season) falter.
Baltimore’s search for a closer has been filled with plenty of question marks this offseason. The team moved incumbent closer Jim Johnson to the Oakland Athletics in an effort to save payroll, only to then turn around and reach an agreement with free agent Grant Balfour. Something in Balfour’s physical presented enough of a question mark that the Orioles backed out of the deal – leaving them without a proven option. The team’s been linked to Fernando Rodney, but reports suggest (which Kubatko confirms) that the team is hesitant to meet Rodney’s price tag.