Pudge expected to sign with Astros
Free-agent catcher to take physical after he's finished with Classic
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Roy Oswalt passed Pudge Rodriguez at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Fla., where both are participating in the World Baseball Classic.
"Hey, teammate," Rodriguez said to Oswalt.
"I guess I was one of the first to find out," Oswalt laughed.
The 37-year-old Rodriguez is expected to sign with the Astros, pending a physical exam that will be taken upon the completion of Puerto Rico's participation in the World Baseball Classic.
"Houston's team needs a catcher," Rodriguez told reporters at Dolphin Stadium. "I'm ready to play."
General manager Ed Wade would only confirm that he has re-engaged agent Scott Boras, approximately two months since the last time the two had talked about the free-agent catcher.
"He reached out to us a few days ago and he and I had a discussion," Wade said. "We're still in the discussion phase. The fact of the matter is that where we were with the economic situation two months ago, we couldn't get a deal done. But in the last few days, we see there is a possibility to get something done."
In essence, playing time is an important part of the negotiations. The Astros are likely not offering the most money, but they can offer a No. 1 catching job, which other teams have apparently been hesitant to do.
The contract will be for one year at $1.5 million with another $1.5 million possible in incentive bonuses.
Oswalt, the staff ace and one of the longest-tenured Astros, is thrilled that the All-Star catcher is moving behind the plate at Minute Maid Park.
"I think it's good," Oswalt said. "He has a lot of experience, he's been about the league and he knows the hitters. It'll be a big boost to the pitching staff."
Rodriguez's offensive numbers dropped last year after he was traded from Detroit to the Yankees, batting just .219 over that two-month stretch, but to Oswalt, a catcher's most important contributions are made while crouching behind the plate, not standing in against an opposing pitcher. For that reason, Oswalt enthusiastically welcomes Rodriguez to the team.
"That's the No. 1 job for a catcher -- defense," he said. "Offensive numbers are a plus, but the main thing is how well you work with pitchers. But it's going to help us, having another bat in the lineup, and it'll also some of the younger pitchers."
Humberto Quintero is currently considered the incumbent No. 1 catcher, but the Astros privately have not been sold on having him fill that role.
Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star in 18 Major League seasons, is 9-for-15 with two homers in four Classic games, and was named Most Valuable Player of Pool D, part of the first round played in San Juan. Puerto Rico, which takes on Venezuela tonight in Miami, is 4-0 in the tournament.
Rodriguez finished last season with the Yankees after 4 1/2 seasons with the Tigers, one with the Marlins and 12 with the Rangers.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.