Sep 20, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (57) reacts after earning a save against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Brewers won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
For some reason, *cough* Billy Koch *cough*, the Sox haven’t been inclined to devote a significant chunk of their payroll to a closer, preferring instead to develop an in-house solution. However, the White Sox need a closer, and the free agent market has plenty of options. If the Sox decide to deviate from their recent blueprint they could sign one of many options such as former closer, Sergio Romo, or Brewer’s former closer, Francisco Rodriguez.
Sergio Romo doesn’t bring a hard fastball to the table, but he still performs well by utilizing his slider and change-up to keep hitters off-balance. After losing the Giant’s closer role to Santiago Castillo in 2014, Romo rebounded by posting a 1.80 ERA the second half of the season. However, his stuff may not be a fit for US Cellular field, which is much less pitcher friendly than ATT Park.
Francisco Rodriguez, you may know him as K-Rod, may be an even more intriguing option. K-Rod made his fifth All Star game appearance last season, while converting 44 out of 49 save opportunities. Rodriguez accomplished that despite a 23.3% HR/FB (Home run per fly ball) ratio. Assuming that number regresses toward his career mean of 9.9%, per fangraphs.com, Rodriguez should continue to impress.
On the trade market, the Phillies seem to be shopping John Papelbon, however CBS’ Jon Heyman notes that the interest in Papelbon around the league is minimal.
Papelbon’s value is hampered by his $13 million salary in 2015. He also has a reputation for being a negative clubhouse personality. It’s safe to say the White Sox would not be interested in giving up anything to trade for that type of expenditure. If the White Sox decide to make an upgrade at closer, they will have to spend considerably on the free agent market. Given the motivation for the team to capitalize on their fortuitous window of opportunity, that may not be out of the question.