The fire sale has started early in New York. Looking to move Francisco Rodriguez before his $17.5 million option kicks in, K-Rod has been traded to the Brewers, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. The Mets will also send along some money to help pay him. In exchange, the Brewers will send a pair of players to be named later
If K-Rod were to finish out 55 games for the season, the option would automatically kick in. Just over halfway through the season, he’s already finished 34 games, needing just 21 before his guaranteed payday.
On the part of the Brewers, they’ve acquired a great relief pitcher. His ERA is a less than impressive 3.14, but over his career he’s proved than he has the stuff to be the best in baseball. In 2008 he was absolutely unstoppable, recording a record 62 saves for the Angels.
The Mets really didn’t get much back for him. Players to be named later are usually not high-ranking prospects. They’re also sending along money to the Brewers. Evidently, it was a salary dump move, and the Mets did not want to take a chance on being stuck with the $17.5 million option.
K Rod was adamant in wanting to remain a closer, and would have rejected a deal to be the setup man for any of the 10 unknown teams in his no-trade clause. It is yet unknown exactly whether the Brewers were on that list, and where he will pencil in for the Brewers. In the best-case scenario, this is how they’ll use their bullpen.
The Brewers already have John Axford as their closer. The 28-year-old has saved 23 games and posted a 2.83 ERA. He has a better ERA, better strikeout-to-walk ratio and better strikeouts per nine innings ratio than K Rod. Simply put, this season he’s been a better closer. K Rod should be his setup man.
Perhaps more importantly is the looming option for K Rod. If he were to finish off 21 more games, he would get his $17.5 million next season. But using him as a setup man will not trigger that option, and allow the Brewers to use him as a half-season rental.
This move shows the Brewers are serious about making a run at the postseason. It’s widely speculated they won’t be able to retain Prince Fielder, but they certainly have a team which could carry them deep into the playoffs. K-Rod would be their second trade for a top-line pitcher this year, having acquired former AL Cy Young pitcher Zach Greinke from the Royals during the offseason.
Suddenly, the Brewers are back to being the favorite team in the NL Central.
Trade season has just begun, and teams still have until July 31 to acquire players via trade without exposing them to the waiver wire. There’s still plenty of time for the rest of the Central to answer back with moves of their own.
Still, this move proves two things. One, the Mets are in straight sell mode, and won’t be making a serious run at the wild card. Two, the Brewers are making a big run at the postseason, and this move won’t even prevent them from future deals.
It’s going to be a fun summer in Wisconsin.