It has seemed clear for some time that the Nationals and Ivan Rodriguez will part ways, and Scott Boras, Rodriguez’s agent, confirmed that tonight. While several teams are considering Rodriguez as a backup catcher, the Nationals are not one of them.
“I think their plan at the moment excludes him,” Boras said.
As of now, the Nationals are considering Jesus Flores, who is eligible for arbitration but will likely make less than $1 million, as the backup for Wilson Ramos. With Jhonatan Solano now on the 40-man roster and top prospect Derek Norris likely to move to Class AAA, the Nationals are well-stocked at catcher.
Rodriguez can still provide unparalleled experience, and he remains an elite defensive catcher. While he understands he will play as a backup in 2012, Rodriguez wants a situation that will allow him enough at-bats to pursue 3,000 career hits (he is 156 short). Rodriguez would have liked more time last year, his second season in Washington, but he never complained and helped contribute to a serene clubhouse.
“In a backup role, there are still a number of teams that are evaluating him and that situation,” Boras said. “I think there are fewer than there were. It’s getting more defined. We should know something here in the next three weeks.”
One logical destination for Rodriguez would be the Miami Marlins, who need a backup catcher. Rodriguez lives in Miami and he is one of the most iconic players in the Marlins’ brief history, a hero of their 2003 World Series title. It’s rare that a backup catcher would help sell tickets, but as the Marlins move into their new stadium, Rodriguez probably would help their big-name blitz.
Boras also said the Nationals have expressed some interest in bringing back free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel. One Nationals official called re-signing Ankiel “an outside possibility,” but their motivation to re-sign Ankiel should become more clear once they have settled their fluid center fielder situation.