Rodriguez's agent to be 'flexible,' 'creative' with free-agent contract demands

The agent for closer Francisco Rodriguez would love for his client to sign the richest contract ever given to a reliever, but at the end of the general managers' meetings he says that his goal is not necessarily five years and $75 million.

In what could result in a more competitive market for Rodriguez, his agent, Paul Kinzer, said that he and his client plan to be "flexible" and "creative" with their demands. This means teams that are against meeting the initial asking price should not be counted out.

"I don't have anything drawn," Kinzer told 1050 ESPN Radio in New York. "The market will take us there."

This is an apparent shift in stance. SI.com quoted Kinzer early last month saying that the "baseline" for getting into the K-Rod sweepstakes was "at least five years" and for Mariano Rivera money. Rivera makes $15 million per season.

Since Rodriguez is just 26, Kinzer still believes five years is attainable, but is not going to eliminate anyone who won't go that far. Rodriguez just set a major league record with 62 saves this season.

Kinzer said he met with four or five teams at the GM meetings, which ended on Thursday. Kinzer wouldn't detail all the GMs with whom he spoke but confirmed he talked with the Mets' Omar Minaya for 45 minutes on Wednesday.

The Mets are uncomfortable giving five years to Rodriguez, in part because it is difficult to insure pitching contracts for more than three or four seasons at a time. The Mets have a need for a closer because Billy Wagner, who is still owed $11 million for next year, is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season.

In early September, Kinzer said he thought the five teams that would be most interested in Rodriguez were the Angels, Mets, Cardinals, Tigers and Dodgers. On Thursday, he said that he did not want to name all the clubs he met with because some want to keep the talks confidential since they will bid on Rodriguez only if they are able to make other moves.

If Kinzer cannot find a five-year deal, he points out that if Rodriguez were to take even a four-year deal, he would be eligible for free agency again when he is 30.

While the financial elements are very important, Kinzer said that Rodriguez wants to feel comfortable. At the end of the free-agent process, Rodriguez may travel to prospective cities to meet with teams.

Kinzer expects Rodriguez to be signed before the new year but said that has nothing to do with President-elect Barack Obama's potential tax plan.

Andrew Marchand is the managing editor of 1050 ESPN Radio in New York.