That the New York Mets have been looking to rebuild their entire bullpen from scratch in the off-season is not big secret in the league. Neither is the fact that a former top closer, Francisco Rodriguez, is still out there looking for work.
Just because it sounds like an easy match, however, does not mean that the Mets are willing to go towards that direction:
Asked source if #Mets might again consider K-Rod, who remains free agent, and it was portrayed as unlikely–same as Jose Valverde previously
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) February 22, 2013
There will be the inclination to see this as a potential opportunity to help the team in 2013, but there are also good baseball reasons for New York to keep away from pitchers like Rodriguez.
At 31-years old, K-Rod is coming off what is arguably his worst season in the majors, setting career-worst marks in ERA (4.38) and WHIP (1.33) over 72 innings with the Milwaukee Brewers.
On top of that, his peripheral numbers are trending downwards as well. The righty has seen a three-year decline in K/9 (from 10.52 in 2010 to 9.00 in 2012) as well as a spiking home run rate (0.50 HR/9 in 2011, 1.00 in 2012). His 7.9 percent swinging strikes generated is easily by far the worst in his career, and pitchers made contact with his offerings at a career-high rate in 2012, doing so at a 80.9 percent clip.
Even though he was much better in the second half, the fact remains that signing Rodriguez carries significant risk, and there’s really no particular reason why the Mets need to take that risk on a one-year deal.
That, and I didn’t even have to mention the whole ugly, temper-fueled divorce that happened between the Mets and K-Rod just a couple of seasons ago. Why go back there?
It’s not to say that K-Rod doesn’t deserve a job in the bigs somewhere, of course. He has had a long track record of success, and at the right number, he’ll be a good flier for a contender to take. It’s just that the latter part does not describe the Mets in 2013.
Unless they can get the team’s former closer back at a cut-rate discount over several years, whether he can even turn into a valuable trade chip by mid-summer is questionable. Besides, New York has already brought in a mix of pitchers on low-risk deals, including Brandon Lyon, LaTroy Hawkins, and Pedro Feliciano, to try to resolve their bullpen problems.
Going after Rodriguez, who will come with certain expectations, may end up creating more problems than it would solve, and that’s not a position the Mets need to put themselves in right now.