MILWAUKEE — The Brewers signed free-agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league deal, general manager Doug Melvin confirmed Wednesday evening.
Rodriguez, 31, will report to the team’s spring training facility in Phoenix, where he will work out and throw while waiting for a work visa before being assigned to a minor league affiliate. The Brewers have 30 days to bring Rodriguez — once one of the game’s most feared closers — back to the big leagues or he will become a free agent.
After playing a role in Milwaukee’s major league-worst 4.66 bullpen ERA in 2012, Rodriguez became a free agent following the season. The Brewers’ revamped bullpen has continued to struggle this season and enters Wednesday with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.
In what Melvin called a “low-risk” move, Rodriguez now has a chance to earn another shot with Milwaukee. Acquired on July 12, 2011 from the New York Mets, Rodriguez was outstanding in the team’s run to the division title and the National League Championship Series that season. He had a 1.86 ERA in 31 regular-season games with the Brewers and yielded just one run in five playoff innings.
His first full season with the Brewers was more of a struggle. Rodriguez went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 78 games in 2012, but he lowered his ERA substantially by allowing just two earned runs in his final 15 innings.
Rodriguez went unsigned after the season but did pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. His country’s stay in the tournament was short-lived, but Rodriguez appeared in two of the three games, working 2 1/3 innings with a 3.86 ERA.
With 294 career saves, Rodriguez ranks 25th in baseball history and holds the single-season saves record for recording 62 in 2008 with the Angels.
Rodriguez has appeared in 682 games over the course of 11 seasons with the Angels, Mets and Brewers, posting a 2.70 career ERA in 720 2/3 innings. Rodriguez led the American League in saves three times and is a four-time All Star.