There have been rumors for the past few months… What would the Mets do with Francisco Rodriguez? With the team over .500, would they deal him in an attempt to avoid letting his 2012 option to vest (at $17.5 million)? Would they sit tight and try and make a run at the Wild Card?
Well, the question was answered last night when the team sent him (as well as cash) to Milwaukee for a pair of players to be named later according to ESPN New York (click here for the article). Don’t conclude that the Mets have raised the white flag at this point, however. While that could happen in the next two weeks, this deal was solely about the albatross of a contract and maintaining payroll flexibility for 2012.
There is no clear-cut answer as to who will close games for the Mets, though Jason Isringhausen (as long as he’s still with the club as he too has been involved in trade rumors), Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato could all factor into things. Parnell, a flame thrower who has long been considered the Mets closer of the future, figures to get the first look and is worth owning in all formats. He currently has a 2.92 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 30 K over 24.2 IP.
Beato was impressive early in the season, not allowing a run over his first 18.2 innings, though he stumbled in May (6.23 ERA) and June (6.39 ERA). I would consider him a long-shot to see many save opportunities, though he could be in the mix.
As for the Brewers, they certainly weren’t a team that had been a rumored landing spot for Rodriguez. However, their acquisitions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke in the offseason showed how aggressive they would be. Now, a closers controversy in Milwaukee begins.
Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (click here for the post) had a quote from General Manager Doug Melvin, who said:
“This gives us another quality arm in the bullpen. I talked to John and I told him not to worry about it. I told him roles will be dictated by games and by (manager) Ron (Roenicke).”
“I couldn’t walk away from the chance to get a pitcher like Francisco and wish later I hadn’t let him get away. We’ve had some injuries in our bullpen, including (setup man Takashi) Saito, and if I let (Rodriguez) get away and somebody went down, I’d kick myself.”
In other words, we don’t know yet if it will be John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez or a combination of the two. You would have to anticipate the Brewers sticking with Axford, at least initially, as he is sporting a 2.83 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 53 K over 41.1 IP. Those numbers are better than Rodriguez’, who is at 3.16 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 46 K over 42.2 IP.
For a team that is likely going to see Prince Fielder leave via free agency after the season, how can they justify letting Rodriguez’ extension vest? Obviously, in the heat of a pennant race, if Axford falters then Rodriguez is there to help carry them into the playoffs. While I wouldn’t cut bait on him quite yet, I would certainly keep him stashed on the bench because the chances are that his fantasy value becomes nil.
What are your thoughts on the deal? Even before knowing who the Mets will get, is it a deal they had to make? Who do you think will close for Milwaukee?