Well, it's final.
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Ivan Rodriguez will be wearing another uniform next season. (Alan Diaz/AP)
MIAMI -- A last-ditch effort by the Marlins to re-sign catcher Ivan Rodriguez fell short late Sunday night when the 10-time All-Star declined an enhanced offer to remain with the World Series champions.
"We are extremely far apart on the money," Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest said shortly after midnight ET. "It's unfortunate. I thought Pudge was a good fit here. There was a strong rebuttal that there was no interest in our enhanced offer. We will all go to sleep tonight knowing that we made an effort."
On Sunday, Beinfest said the Marlins presented Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, with a substantial increase from the original offer made last Tuesday. About 11 p.m., Boras responded that the gap was still wide and that his client would pursue seeking offers elsewhere.
Without giving exact specifics, Beinfest said the offer was in excess of $7 million on an annual basis.
"Again, Pudge was unmovable," Beinfest said. "We were looking at any number of ways to get this thing done."
Rodriguez, who made $10 million last season, held fast that he didn't want to take a pay cut. The catcher was seeking a deal of at least four seasons.
Boras gave the indication that Rodriguez already had interest from other teams willing to meet the catcher's demands.
On Sunday afternoon, Beinfest reopened contract talks with Boras. Team owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson took part in the conversations in which Florida increased its original offer.
"Pudge will not be a Marlin in 2004," Beinfest said. "He was terrific for us. ... We were not able to get it done."
Renewing negotiations came two days after both sides broke off talks.
A deal had to be reached by midnight Sunday because contractually the Marlins were prohibited from offering Rodriguez arbitration. That was a stipulation in the one-year contract the catcher signed Jan. 22.
"We needed to be creative and I think that we were creative," Beinfest said. "Jeffrey was open to a lot of things. We were open to looking to just about anything. I think we were all hopeful to bring Pudge back."
Also Sunday, the Marlins officially signed All-Star second baseman Luis Castillo and reliever Chad Fox.
Three veterans on the World Series squad are not expected back. Arbitration was not tendered to reliever Ugueth Urbina, outfielder Todd Hollandsworth and pitcher Rick Helling.
On Tuesday, the Marlins extended a two-year, $16 million offer to Rodriguez. But on Friday, negotiations stalled after Rodriguez requested the same dollar figure he earned in 2003. The veteran catcher also sought a deal of four years, the same length All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell signed on Wednesday.
Boras said his client was willing to defer money to help the Marlins remain within their $60 million payroll allocation.
Rodriguez, who turned 32 on Nov. 30, enjoyed a solid bounce-back season with the Marlins, hitting .297 with 16 home runs and 85 RBIs in 144 games with 134 starts. In his three previous years with the Rangers, the catcher averaged playing in 103 games.
A 10-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner in his years with Texas, Rodriguez ranked fourth in the National League in average with runners in scoring position (.375). From June 6, over his last 96 games, he was even better, hitting .406 (39-for-96) in those situations.
In the postseason, Rodriguez stepped up big, especially in the NLCS against the Cubs. He hit .321 and drove in an NLCS record 10 runs.
Defensively, Rodriguez was credited for handling the Marlins' young pitching staff and helping shut down opposing running games. Known for having one of the strongest arms ever for a catcher, Rodriguez made a pivotal play in Game 1 of the World Series when he picked Nick Johnson off third base in a 3-2 win over the Yankees.
In 2003, Rodriguez caught 19 of 59 (32.2 percent) runners trying to steal. He did have 10 passed balls, which tied for second most in a season for his career.
With Rodriguez not returning, the Marlins will turn the catching duties over to untested Ramon Castro and veteran backup Mike Redmond, who has ample starting experience.
The two are different players. Castro, 27, is a potential power hitter. He had five home runs in 53 at-bats, hitting .283. Arbitration-eligible for the first time, Castro has 15 Major League homers in 370 at-bats with 45 RBIs.
Redmond, the primary backup last season, hit .240 with no home runs in 125 at-bats.
In 2002, Redmond played in 89 games and posted a .305 average with two home runs and 28 RBIs in 89 games.