As first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Tigers are acquiring reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers, in exchange for minor league infielder Javier Betancourt, as well as another player to be named later. The Tigers will receive a player to be named later in return.
Rodriguez, also known as K-Rod, served as Milwaukee's closer in 2014 and 2015. Over the two years, he saved 82 games for the Brewers, with ERA's of 3.04 and 2.21, respectively, with a strikeout rate of greater than a K per inning.
Rodriguez, who turns 34 early next year, has one year left on his 2 year, $13 million contract that he signed prior to 2014. He also has an option year for 2017 at $8 million, with a $2 million buyout.
The Tigers have not yet commented on the move, so it's uncertain for what role they are expecting Rodriguez to fill, but without a major free agent signing, it would seem likely that they would expect to slide Rodriguez into the closer role.
In exchange for Rodriguez, the Tigers sent Betancourt to the Brewers, a minor league infield prospect in the Tigers system. Betancourt, who entered the season ranked 16th in the TigsTown Top 50, spent the year playing second base for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He hit .263 with a .640 OPS as a 20-year old in the High-A Florida State League.
Betancourt has a good approach at the plate and very good contact skills, and good project to be an above average hitter, but has shown very little power in his game. He's also a somewhat limited athlete without great speed and average arm and range, which likely will limit him to second base as he moves up the ladder.
Assuming the player to be named is not among the top prospects in the Tigers system, it's a limited risk move for the Tigers that helps start to solve their bullpen issues, with a reliever that has been very reliable each of the last two seasons in the last inning of games. The Tigers are only committed to Rodriguez for one season at $5.5 million (plus the buyout), and it's unlikely they would have been able to find anything remotely close to Rodriguez's ability at that price tag. Betancourt is a solid prospect, but remains high-risk given he's limited to second base and has not enjoyed extensive excess on the field yet.
A good first move, with the belief that there will still be many more to come.null