As Matthew noted a little earlier, the Mets have traded Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations to the Brewers for two players to be named later.
Who the Mets eventually get in return here is really secondary to what the trade accomplishes for the club. This is all about shedding his $17.5 million option for 2012, which vests if he reaches 55 games finished this season. He was already at 34 at the All-Star break, which would have put him on pace to get there with ease during the second half of the season. Of course, no reasonable baseball observer expected Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to let him get there. He likely would have tried to avoid the option, even if the Wilpons weren’t in a bind financially.
Rodriguez’s alliance with new agent Scott Boras this week was a strong indication that the wheels were already in motion behind the scenes. While Boras tried to scare off potential suitors yesterday by asking, “Does anyone want an unhappy setup man in their clubhouse?” it’s actually in K-Rod’s best interest to behave and pitch well in a set-up role, since he’ll almost certainly be a free agent this winter. Unless John Axford blows his arm out (which is always possible, I suppose), there’s no way the Brewers will let him finish 21 games.
The Brewers signed 41-year-old Takashi Saito over the winter to serve as a set-up man for Axford, but injuries have limited him to just five appearances this season. Meanwhile, Rodriguez is 12 years younger and much more durable. While he doesn’t throw as hard as he once did, K-Rod has a quality 3.16 ERA and 46/16 K/BB ratio over 42 2/3 innings this season. Last year’s assault charge aside, he’s still a very capable relief pitcher.
Brewers fans should be excited about this trade, as it’s yet another indication that GM Doug Melvin is doing everything he can to put the team in a position to win right now. And he should, since All-Star Game MVP Prince Fielder will be a free agent following the season.
The Mets are in some uncertain times as far as finances go, so it’s hard to say what sort of payroll they’ll be operating with next season. But what we do know is that Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will all officially be off the books. That’s approximately $50 million between four players. I’m not saying that the Mets will definitely keep Jose Reyes, but this trade at least puts them in better financial position to negotiate.