WBC Auditions: Pudge Rodriguez
The World Baseball Classic is a psuedo self-congratulatory event for major league baseball, but there are plenty of larger implications for players in it, particularly in the current economy, when some veterans who would have been snapped up in the past still don't have a major league deal.
Cue Ivan Pudge Rodriguez. He's impressed for Puerto Rico, and it's entirely possible that his opening WBC salvos last week (a 4-for-5 day with 2 HR for Pudge) could go a long way toward landing him a job.
After a series of denials from all teams throughout the offseason, it's now clear that the Marlins would like to bring Rodriguez back to Miami. Yesterday, the Miami Herald's David Quinones asked Rodriguez about the Marlins, with the veteran reporting that he and his agent were in conversation with the Marlins. According to a different report from MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the only big obstacle remaining for Florida and Pudge may be playing time, not money in a deal.
The Marlins intrest being noted -- and their location near his offseason home in Miami yet another factor in their favor -- there are other teams vying for Pudge's services, too. The Mets have -- despite reports to the countrary -- clearly had interest in adding Rodriguez, though that would require moving their current backup, Ramon Castro. As with the Marlins, Rodriguez also want might assurances about playing time, and that might be the biggest obstacle with New York. Rodriguez would almost surely rather play for a contender, but the Mets have Brian Schneider established as their starter, and there's no reason to believe they'd give the job outright to Rodriguez, risking a faceoff with Schneider and chemistry issues with the rest of the team.
So where will Rodriguez land? It's hard to bet against the Marlins at this point, but you never know until the ink is dry on a contract. Could he end up unemployed? Sure, particularly given the current economy. But don't bet on it, particularly after that WBC opening win over Panama.
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