We’ve all known for over a year now that the Mets weren’t going to want to be on the hook for Francisco Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option for 2012. They would have given him away to be out from under it. As is, they had to pay the Brewers almost $6 million just to get a couple of middling prospects in return for K-Rod.
And as soon as the Brewers picked him up, we knew they had no intention of allowing Rodriguez to get the 21 games finished he’d need during the second half to guarantee that option. No one wants to spend $17.5 million on a closer.
That said, this isn’t armageddon. If the Brewers lose John Axford to injury, they need to go ahead and let Rodriguez close. It’s not a decision that would cost them $17.5 million.
As part of the trade, the Mets picked up the nearly $6 million of the $8.4 million owed to Rodriguez. $4.9 million of the $8.4 million of that is the remainder of his $11.5 million salary for 2011. The rest is a $3.5 million buyout attached to Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option.
So, really, that makes the option worth $14 million, since the $3.5 million is spoken for anyway. And there’s going to be at least one team out there willing to take on Rodriguez as a $9 million-$10 million closer this winter. The only way that wouldn’t be the case is if Rodriguez gets hurt and finishes the season on the DL, and there is a clause in his contract that voids the ability of the option to vest in the event of an injury.
The way I see it, pretty much the worst-case scenario here is that the Brewers have to eat $5 million in the event of the option becoming guaranteed. That’s not nothing, but it’s not going to kill a team with a payroll in the $90 million range. Most likely, the Brewers won’t have to deal with it anyway.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.