By Jerry Del Priore
The Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League made a splash today by singing Francisco Rodriguez, arguably one of the best closers in MLB history.
The right-hander joins the Ducks after spending the 2017 season in the Tigers and Washington Nationals organizations.
Rodriguez, also known by his nickname, ‘K-Rod’, recorded 437 saves, fourth most in Major League Baseball history, in his 16-year MLB career.
The fiery reliever has pitched for five different MLB teams during that span: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2002-08), New York Mets (2009-11), Milwaukee Brewers (2011-13, 2014-15), Baltimore Orioles (2013) and Detroit Tigers (2016-17).
The 36-year-old has made six MLB All-Star squads, representing the American League three times (2004, ‘07, ‘08) and the National League three times (2009, ‘14, ‘15). Plus, Rodriguez finished in the top five for Cy Young Award voting three times (2004, ‘06, ‘08) and ranked sixth in American League MVP balloting for ‘08.
In addition, Rodriguez, a Venezuela native, led the American League in saves in three different seasons: 2005, ‘06, and ’08. And his 62 saves in ‘08 is a single-season MLB record. He also won a World Series ring with LAA in 2002.
The Angels originally signed Rodriguez—a two-time World Baseball Classic participant with Venezuela (2006, ‘09)—as an undrafted free agent in 1998.