The Washington Nationals checked another item off their Winter Meetings to-do list, signing catcher Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year, $6 million contract. The team envisions the future hall-of-famer to back-up Jesus Flores, play his mentor, and help nurture a young, up-and-coming pitching staff.
Whether or not the 38-year old Rodriguez is up to the task is anybody's guess. But GM Mike Rizzo surely believes that the man they call "Pudge" is up to it.
Last year, between Texas and Houston, in 448 plate appearances, Rodriguez hit .249/.280/.384 with 10 home runs, 23 doubles and 47 RBI. He walked just 23 times, for a woeful 4.8 percent walk rate.
On the defensive side, he threw out 6 of the 13 runners that tried to steal against him, a 46 percent rate, up from recent years in the 35 percent range. He was 11.2 runs above average at catcher in 2009, a huge jump and his highest Rtot/yr since 2006.
The general opinion so far is that "yeah, he's washed up, but it's better than what we had last year." But is he really? And at the cost?
Wil Nieves hit .259/.313/.299 in 249 plate appearances with one homer and 26 RBI, and had a 28 percent CS rate. Josh Bard hit .230/.293/.361 with six homers and 31 RBI in 301 plate appearances with a 27 percent CS rate.
So maybe performance-wise, Pudge is marginally better than the duo that filled in for Jeus Flores most of the summer.
But the Nats handed over $6 million over two years, which seems awfully high, especially when he was on a one-year, $1.5 million contract last season. Are we left to believe that the "loser sur-tax" to bring credible free agents to D.C. is four times the market rate?
Count me in the column that doesn't particularly like this deal. But hey, at least they attracted one washed up future Hall-of-Famer. Maybe that'll help lure another one (John Smoltz, anyone?).