Well, that was unexpected.

Posted by Steve

The Brewers are the center of the baseball world today, with Prince Fielder winning All-Star MVP and the shocker of acquiring Francisco Rodriguez late last night.

Relief pitching is not the Brewers’ biggest area of need, but from the sounds of things, this is something that fell into Doug Melvin’s lap and was too good to pass up. The Brewers send two players to be named later (PTBNL) and get some cash (amount unknown at this time) in return.

I wouldn’t expect those PTBNLs to be anyone of significance. The reasoning is actually a bit complicated.

K-Rod has a whopping $17.5 million option that kicks in next year if he finishes 55 games. He has already finished 34 games. K-Rod is still a solid reliever, but he isn’t nearly as dominant as he was a few years ago. In other words, nobody wants to pay him $17.5 mil next year.

The Mets had┬áto trade K-Rod. Their financial woes are well documented, but they couldn’t simply remove him from the closer’s role when he was having success. The union would have cried foul, and K-Rod probably would have won an appeal.

So not only did the Mets have to trade him, but they needed to trade him somewhere that he A) didn’t have on his 10-team no-trade list, and B) had an established closer in place so they could justify not using K-Rod to finish games.

Pretty tricky, huh? Suddenly the Brewers look like one of the only teams who could have taken him. This is why the Mets were backed into a corner and were obviously eager to deal him as soon as they could.

One thing I’m unclear on is his free agent status. If K-Rod is a Type A and the Brewers can offer him arbitration and get comp picks for him, this is potentially a steal. However, I’m unclear if this is possible once they buy him out after this season. I’ve found conflicting reports on this, although MLB Trade Rumors has him as a Type A.

So… All business stuff aside, how’s this trade for the Brewers?

The only way it’s bad is if the amount of money they’re spending on K-Rod prevents them from upgrading shortstop. Shortstop is a much, much bigger priority than bullpen help, and I will be furious if they don’t address it. I don’t believe this move prevents it, though. The Mets are contributing some money for this season, because their main concern was the option for next year. Therefore, I don’t think the Brewers took on a large financial burden here.

There won’t be a closer controversy or anything. Axford has been outstanding, and they won’t let K-Rod get near that 55 mark. I’m sure he’ll notch a few saves the rest of the way if Axford is overworked, but nothing crazy. As Doug Melvin said, this was just a way to add a quality reliever.

This does give Roenicke, who has shown signs of much better bullpen management in recent games, another weapon to play with. You’d think he’ll use K-Rod as his “eighth-inning guy,” but at least that’s a much better option than just Kameron Loe (by the way, see how effective Loe can be when used effectively, as in only against righties?).

With the additions of K-Rod and Saito the rest of the way, the bullpen should be an area of strength. Doug got a good move out of the way early, and this should give him plenty of time to address priority number one: a new shortstop.

Oh, and the most underrated part of this trade? That $17.5 million option should keep K-Rod from celebrating like an idiot. He can’t celebrate a save when he’s not closing, right?

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4 responses to “Well, that was unexpected.

  1. He will still celebrate like an idiot. Of that you can be certain.

  2. I see no way in which they can chance offering him arbitration. If he accepts they could be on the hook for a massive contract.

  3. It is a gamble, but I think I’d do it. It seems like K-Rod has been around forever, but he’s still only 29. He recently hired Scott Boras. When has Boras allowed a client to accept arbitration over hitting free agency? At 29, he can still get a multi-year deal somewhere to close.

    Worst case scenario, he accepts arbitration for around $12 million, and the Brewers trade him to anyone willing to take on a one-year contract.

    With picks from Fielder and Rodriguez, the Brewers would have a second straight year with a wealth of draft picks to replenish the system.

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