2014 Statistics: 68 IP, 69 G, 3.04 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 44 SV, 9.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.5 fWAR
2015 Age: 33
Position: Right-handed relief pitcher
Apparently the New York Yankees have made re-signing David Robertson a top priority, though at this point in the offseason that's hardly makes it certain that we will see D-Rob sign with the New York Yankees. In the event the Yankees fail to bring back their closer, Dellin Betances might appear to be a ready-made replacement, though if the front office chooses to favour a veteran over promoting internally it would hardly be the first time. There is a lot to be said about keeping Betances in his current role as 'relief ace' of course, his ability to generate strikeouts and pitch multiple innings in a game arguably makes him more valuable if he isn't reserved for the ninth inning.
Should the Yankees pursue a 'proven closer' in the open market, there are few options more 'proven' than Francisco Rodriguez. With 348 career saves he is behind only Joe Nathan among active players, and he holds the single-season record with 62 saves. Should the Yankees fail to sign D-Rob, K-Rod might hold appeal especially as he does not have a draft pick attached, and he might well be persuaded to settle for a one or two year contract with an annual value of $5 to $7 million, likely making him significantly cheaper than Robertson and perhaps Andrew Miller.
Rodriguez made his major league debut in 2002 with the Los Angeles Angels, where as a setup man he was a key part of their magical postseason run in 2002. Promoted to closer before the 2005 season after the departure of Troy Percival, K-Rod reached 208 saves after his fourth full-season as closer, and as an example of the market value of the save statistic, the Mets signed him to a three year 37 million dollar contract. His time in New York was turbulent, involving a much publicised spat with his pitching coach followed by an even more well publicised arrest for assaulting his girlfriends father. Ultimately he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers as a setup man, where he has been ever since apart from the second half of 2013 when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Re-signed by the Brewers to close for 2014, K-Rod pitched his way through a typically solid season.
Despite a declining fastball, Rodriguez continues to post solid strikeout numbers, pitch his way to a solid ERA - though his 2014 FIP is a little concerning - and close out games. At this point in his career he isn't at the top of the relief pitcher market or a rival for Robertson so expect him to wait out D-Rob and Miller's decisions before receiving offers from the teams that miss out.
Personally, should the Yankees fail to bring back Robertson I'd rather they spend the money elsewhere patching the many holes on this team. Relief pitching is the one roster area where we can be reasonably confident in the high-level minor league depth available to complement the existing strength. However, I wouldn't be too upset if they chose to sign K-Rod to a contract of no more than 2 years and $14 million. That type of deal wouldn't make him a barrier to promoting elite relief talent like Lindgren, or ultimately stop the Yankees giving ninth inning duties to Betances, but it would allow them not to rush the process of turning over the closer role to Dellin after just one successful major league season.