With Francisco Rodriguez's talent and lack of competition on the Mets, he seems like a lock to be the NY Mets' closer this year and rack up plenty of saves.
He certainly has a lot to prove. Professional athletes who have run into negative press frequently, use success on the field as a way to earn their way back into the good graces of the fans and the media.
He has come to camp in good shape and appears poised to have a stellar rebound season. So why should you steer clear of him when picking a closer this year?
I do believe K-Rod will start the year as the closer and do an excellent job out of the pen. Even though I expect the Mets to perform poorly this year, there will still be plenty of save opportunities.
The Mets have no interest in K-Rod beyond this year. They also will be wary of any complaints raised by the Player's Association with regard to him not completing 55 games this year and thereby having his 2012, $17 million option guaranteed.
The last thing they want is a $17 million bill to pay in 2012—let alone a problem with the players union. That is why I believe they will eliminate both problems with one move.
It is clear to me, and should be to all but the most die-hard Met fans, that the team will be out of contention by the end of June. At that time it will be easier to trade K-Rod away without much complaint from the fans.
I believe the Mets will trade K-Rod to a contender to fill the role of set-up man and emergency closer. This type of acquisition is common for contending teams lacking a strong set-up man.
The Mets get to kill two birds with one stone with this move. They are already on the hook for his 2011 salary. By trading him to a contender and eating the remainder of his salary, they make his acquisition very attractive for a contender with a need.
In this scenario, the Mets get to demand a talented prospect in return while also avoiding any issue of his 2012 option vesting.
The team trading for K-Rod should be willing to give up a prospect with talent because, even though they are just renting K-Rod for the stretch-run, they are getting him on the cheap.
They are also using him in the set-up role, preventing him from reaching the 55 games-completed mark and avoiding the $17 million obligation in 2012.
They will not run afoul of the Major League Player's Association because his role will not be of a closer. Their bonus will come in the off season when K Rod signs with another team, and they receive a sandwich pick in the upcoming amateur draft.
If you have him in a keeper league, trade him before the Mets do. If not, steer clear.