We've been speculating about a potential Francisco Rodriguez return to Milwaukee for weeks, but earlier today Doug Melvin seemed to imply nothing was imminent, telling Adam McCalvy he was comfortable with the team's stable of young arms.
That story hit MLB.com at 11:49 today, but apparently Doug Melvin changed his mind in the two hours that followed. The Brewers have reportedly signed Rodriguez to a one-year, MLB deal, according to Chris Cotillo. The deal is for $3.25 million plus incentives, according to McCalvy.
Rodriguez has been a Brewer for at least part of the last three seasons, joining the team in a trade with the Mets in 2011, sticking around for 2012 and rejoining the team on a minor league deal in May of 2013. He was very good for the Crew in partial seasons in 2011 (1.86 ERA in 31 appearances) and 2013 (1.09 in 25 games) but struggled in 2012, when he had a career-high 4.38 ERA. He also had a rough finish to the year with the Orioles in 2013, when he was used in mostly low-leverage situations
All told, Rodriguez has 730 MLB appearances over 12 professional seasons, and is second among active pitchers with 304 career saves. He notched #300 with the Brewers last season.
It'll be interesting to see how the Brewers handle Rodriguez's role this spring. At the very least he probably replaces Brandon Kintzler as the primary setup option, but I'd say there's also a strong chance he gets a chance to close.
UPDATE: To clear a spot on the roster, the Brewers have designated Donovan Hand for assignment. Hand made 31 appearances (seven starts) for the Brewers in 2013 and posted a 3.69 ERA over 68.1 innings, but struck out just 4.9 batters per nine innings. He'll turn 28 in April and 2013 was his first MLB season.