A year ago on Opening Day, K-Rod was still entrenched as the Tigers' closer. How quickly things change in Major League Baseball. Francisco Rodriguez squandered four of 11 save chances to begin the 2017 season and was formally removed from the ninth-inning role in early May. Things didn't get any better for the right-hander in middle relief and Detroit ultimately cut ties in late-June. Rodriguez then signed with Washington, but was released weeks later without a major-league appearance. His strikeout rate fell for a second straight year, dropping to a career-low 19.5 percent, while his walk rate ticked up to 9.3 percent. Home runs were the major problem, with Rodriguez giving up nine long balls in just 25.1 innings. The 36-year-old will get a chance to compete for a spot in the Phillies' bullpen in spring training, but his days of closing games are likely gone, and so too is his mixed-league relevance.
Rodriguez signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies on Saturday which includes an invitation to spring training, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports. The 2017 campaign was a rough year for Rodriguez, as he lost his ninth-inning job to Justin Wilson and posted a 7.82 ERA and 1.66 WHIP across 25.1 innings with the Tigers before being released in mid-June. He linked up with the Nationals on a minor-league deal shortly after flaming out with Detroit, but he ultimately couldn't work his way back to the majors. The Phillies are taking a flyer on the once-elite receiver, though it would take a pretty big turnaround for him to return to high-leverage work in 2018.
Rodriguez was released by the Nationals on Friday, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports. Rodriguez appeared in five games during his brief stint in the minors for the Nationals, allowing one earned run off four hits with three walks while striking out a pair over the course of five innings. The veteran didn't seem to be able to rein in his command, which has been the main detriment to his game this season. Washington seemingly decided that it wasn't worth it to keep K-Rod in the organization, especially with the chances of the 35-year-old making his way up to the major-league team so slim. Rodriguez could earn another look from a contender, but it's a stretch to think that he could be a viable fantasy play at any point during the rest of this season, especially if he couldn't break into the Nationals' tattered bullpen.
Rodriguez reported Tuesday to Double-A Harrisburg to begin his tenure with the Nationals organization, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. The expectation was that Rodriguez, who signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals last week, would head to the team's top affiliate at Triple-A Syracuse, but an assignment to Harrisburg may not have required as much roster tinkering. The level of competition isn't as important for Rodriguez at this stage of his career as demonstrating that he can still command his pitches effectively, an area where he struggled mightily earlier this season with the Tigers. Before being released in June, Rodriguez had surrendered nine home runs and walked 11 batters over 25.1 innings. He doesn't seem to have much left in the tank at this stage of his career and looks unlikely to stabilize the late innings for the Nationals should he receive a promotion to the big club down the line.
Rodriguez agreed to a minor-league contract with the Nationals on Monday, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports. K-Rod struggled through the first half of the season, compiling a 7.82 ERA and 1.69 WHIP through 25.1 innings before being cut loose by the Tigers. The veteran closer was quickly scooped up by the Nationals, who currently own the fifth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball (4.88). The 35-year-old will likely need to get a few appearances under his belt in the minors before he joins the big club. It's still unclear what role Rodriguez will have out of the Nationals' bullpen, but if he's able to pitch well initially, he could quickly work himself into some high-leverage innings, given the struggles of Washington's bullpen this season.
Rodriguez was let go Friday, prior to the contest against the Padres. The Tigers decided to cut ties with the longtime closer following a season and a half of Rodriguez's services. Throughout the course of this season, the 35-year-old has posted a 7.82 ERA with a 23:11 K:BB over 25.1 innings of work. There is a chance that Rodriguez latches on with a contender looking for a spark in their bullpen, especially since he provided solid numbers during the 2016 campaign with Detroit.