Will White Sox Want K-Rod?

Yesterday was the non-tendering deadline, and as a result one of the biggest names to hit the free-agent market was White Sox closer Bobby Jenks.

This leaves the ChiSox without a legitimate 9th-inning man, since J.J. Putz is also a free agent.

The White Sox also have signed Adam Dunn to a 4-year deal, and re-signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski. It is also rumored that they will find a way to bring Paul Konerko back. Looking at these moves, and their heavily veteran roster, this team is built to win now — and GM Kenny Williams seems intent on improving upon last year’s 88-74 record by providing Ozzie Guillen with all the talent he needs.

It seems like an ideal situation for Francisco Rodriguez.

First, K-Rod will return to a club positioned for the postseason — an environment to which he is most accustomed. Second, he would pitch under fellow Venezuela countryman Ozzie Guillen, who also happens to share a similarly passionate personality; the two would appear to be made for each other. Third, with the White Sox gunning for the playoffs and in need of a closer to get there, a reliever with K-Rod’s resume is a no-brainer.

From K-Rod’s perspective, a move back to the AL and far away from New York would be a good way to make a fresh start; physically distancing himself from the place where he assaulted his father-in-law would help in emotionally distancing himself from the ordeal. Although the Chicago media is no cakewalk, it certainly would be less of a pressure cooker than New York. More importantly, the media and fans of Chicago are likely to be more forgiving and accepting of Rodriguez — again, because of distance from the situation but also because he is a player the team genuinely needs. In contrast, the Mets do not necessarily “need” a veteran closer pitching for his next contract during their rebuilding phase — they need to audition young arms for the role while looking toward 2012 – 2013.

The only obstacle to a trade of Francisco Rodriguez to the White Sox would be financial; K-Rod carries with him a hefty $11.5M salary in 2011 and a fairly reachable vesting option that would guarantee him another year at an obnoxious $17.5M (he would need to finish at least 55 games in 2011 for the option to vest). Considering that the White Sox cut Jenks loose because he was in line for at least a $9M contract via arbitration, K-Rod’s $11.5M might be too rich. Unless, they value K-Rod much, much more highly than they do Jenks — which is possible. My guess, though, is that for the White Sox to acquire Rodriguez, either he would have to agree to renegotiate his deal, and/or the Mets would have to eat at least half of the contract.

You know what? That’s not an unrealistic possibility. The Mets are motivated to move K-Rod — even if they won’t say so publicly — the White Sox would love an elite closer, and K-Rod really, really needs to escape New York. It will take some creativity and concessions on all sides, but in the end it would be a win-win-win.

Tell me you can’t envision a public media love fest between Guillen and Rodriguez immediately after such a trade took place.

What do you think? Can you see the Mets moving K-Rod? Can you see the White Sox wanting him? Is there a way such a deal can happen? Who would you target in return?

10-11 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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