Os acquire Francisco Rodriguez for Nick Delmonico
The Orioles acquired veteran pitcher Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, adding the right-handed reliever they coveted in exchange for promising infield prospect Nick Delmonico.
“We like Franky Rodriguez’s experience, especially in pitching in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of the move. “And he’s done it well. He gives us a little more depth to our bullpen. We really like his changeup, his signature pitch that has had success against left-handed hitters. And he’s a Major League veteran. He has got experience and he’s a competitor.”
The 31-year-old Rodriguez is 1-1 with 10 saves, a 1.09 ERA (24 2/3 IP, 3ER), 26 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 appearances. He has recorded double-digit saves in nine of the last 10 seasons — including a Major League record 62 while with the Angels in ’08– and his 304 career saves are third-most among active players.
He will presumably take over a late-inning role in the Orioles’ bullpen, giving manager Buck Showalter another option in close games, which Baltimore plays on a near-nightly basis. Closer Jim Johnson is on pace to record more save opportunities than last year and even with the team’s rotation –bolstered by the recent trade for starter Scott Feldman – looking improved, the O’s never filled the spot vacated by power arm Pedro Strop.
“We are pretty solid defensively and we’ve got some pretty solid players in the lineup,” Duquette said of an Orioles club that entered Tuesday’s game on a season-high five-game winning streak and a season-high 14 games over .500. “We were trying to upgrade the pitching to give us a chance to make the run for the AL [East] title and the pennant. So, we did what we had to do to help the team now and we have enough players having good years at the plate. It’s my hope that we can have a steady stream of prospects going through the system so we can have some that we can trade to supplement the Major League team.”
Delmonico, ranked as the Orioles fifth-best prospect by MLB.com entering the season, hit .244/.351/.471 in 60 games for Class-A Advanced Frederick. The organization’s sixth-round pick out of Farragut (Tenn.) High School, Delmonico played 43 games at third base, 13 at designated hitter and one at first.
“Nick Delmonico shows a lot of promise as a hitter,” Duquette said, “but the Major League club needed a little more depth for our pitching staff to accomplish what we want to accomplish this year.
One of the best available right-handed relievers, the Orioles’ acquisition of Rodriguez also keeps him away from other rumored suitors including the Detroit Tigers and divisional rival Boston Red Sox. Rodriguez has held left-handed hitters to a .102/.185/.186 line this year and over his career has been able to defend himself on both sides of the plate. He owns a .214/.297/.346 mark against left-handed hitters and a.192/.282/.287 mark against righties.
The trade, coupled with the deal for Feldman earlier this month, have the O’s likely done dealing in advance of July 31’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.
“The addition of [Scott] Feldman and of course the rerun of [Wei-Yin] Chen has helped stabilize the team and we hope the addition of Frank Rodriguez will be additive as well,” Duquette said. “It’s a tough league and a tough division we are competing in. Again, we have a number of position players having good years. I think our pitching needed to be bolstered and that’s what these two trades are trying to do. To help make our pitching stronger.”