The intensity and flair of Francisco Rodriguez has been integral to his success as a closer, but would it be a detriment to him in the setup role?
So far, David Robertson has been stellar, both in the middle relief and setup man role, but the Yankees will want to add to the pen in order to secure the setup man spot.
There are two reasons that make Rodriguez and the Yankees a mismatch—baseball fit and finances.
This offseason, the Yankees thought that bringing in Rafael Soriano, a closer, as their setup man would give them a dominant chain of pitchers to close out the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. The Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera team could not get the job done together; Soriano languished in the setup man role.
Bringing in Rodriguez to be the setup man may cause the same problems. Francisco Rodriguez is the kind of head case who is uniquely tailored to be a closer. He pitches into jams only to psyche himself up to get out of them.
He has been one of the best closers in baseball this year, but every save is an adventure. This isn't a knock against K-Rod; it's just his style. It's a style that is a questionable fit for a setup role.
The Yankees need someone to seamlessly hand the ball off to Mariano Rivera, who is the anti-Rodriguez as far as the prototypes of great closers are concerned.
Rodriguez has told the media that he would waive his $17 million option, almost certain to vest at the end of the year, but only if the Mets, or a trade partner, would extend his contract further. You have to imagine that Rodriguez would be seeking a deal, which, at minimum would be a three year, $30 million deal.
Therefore, going forward, Rodriguez would cost the Yankees between $10-$17 million for one to three years.
This causes quite the financial conundrum.
Soriano's miserable start to the year all but guarantees that he will renew his $15 million option for next year. Rivera has showed no signs of slowing down, so he is sure to be back for at least next year. Rivera will be looking for at least $15 million if he is to come back to the Yankees.
Under this scenario, the acquisition of Rodriguez would leave the Yankees with a $40-$47 million investment in three bullpen pitchers.
Que ridiculo! The Yankees may be better suited to take a flier on Rojo Johnson.
I do not think that even the Yankees have the financial flexibility to invest over $40 million in less than half of their bullpen. Moreover, after what has been a failed Soriano experiment so far, they must have some degree of timidness in taking a chance on moving another successful closer to a setup role.
The Yankees would be better off searching for a bullpen arm that fits their baseball needs better than Rodriguez, and who is a more suitable financial option.
But, who knows? It's the Yankees. Anything is possible.