Wednesday Dec. 10, 2008
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Francisco Rodriguez and the New York Mets completed their $37 million, three-year contract Wednesday.
Rodriguez saved 62 games for the Los Angeles Angels this year, five more than the previous big league mark set by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990, and then filed for free agency.
"One of our primary goals this offseason was to secure a top of the line closer to anchor our bullpen and by acquiring Frankie Rodriguez we feel confident that we have one of the best closers in the majors," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said in a statement.
Rodriguez's agent, Paul Kinzer, had hoped to get a five-year contract, possibly equaling the $15 million average salary Mariano Rivera is earning from the New York Yankees.
But with baseball executives worried about the national recession, Kinzer accepted a more modest deal. The Mets were a natural fit because they were one of the few big-market teams looking for an elite closer this offseason.
Because Johan Santana wears No. 57, Rodriguez will switch to No. 75.
"Mets fans are very passionate and playing in a new ballpark is going to be great," Rodriguez said in a statement. "I'm going to do everything I can to help bring a championship to Citi Field."
All-Star Billy Wagner is expected to miss all of next season following elbow ligament replacement surgery, causing the Mets to find a replacement.
"The way that we lost so many close games late, I think that was critical for us to — theoretically — address this thing here. We have addressed it very well," manager Jerry Manuel said Tuesday, laughing. "I mean, they say the word on the street is good. It's good. That's just the word on the street. We've got to get it written down."
K-Rod could fit in with New York in another way, too. Some take exception to his antics on the mound, and the Mets have drawn the ire of opposing teams for their boisterous celebrations.
The fact that several free-agent closers were available probably drove down Rodriguez's market value. Coming off its second consecutive September collapse, New York got a boost as it prepares for its first season at Citi Field, an $800 million ballpark built adjacent to Shea Stadium.