Immediately following the Some-Star Game last night, the Brewers acquired Francisco Rodriguez and cash in a trade for 2 players to be named later. Let's break this down a little bit shall we?
First of all, let's talk about the pieces.
KRod may not be in the prime of his career, but he is still a good reliever and will be an upgrade to our current bullpen, the biggest question is whether he is actually comfortable with coming in to a set up role. Sometimes closers, especially ones who are put there unwillingly, have issues with moving to that 8th inning slot. His contract is quite large, but the Mets ate 5 million of it in the trade and he has around another 5 million left for the rest of the year, so that will be a wash for this year and they will be able to buy out his contract at the end of the year for 3.5 million. There is a vesting clause for next year that I will talk about more in depth later.
The Brewers are sending over 2 players to be named at a later date. These are always fun guessing games for commenters and bloggers trying to speculate who might be available. Apparently the list is of 5 players and according to comments by Doug Melvin, none of those players would be considered top prospects in our farm system. It has also been said that the quality of these players will somewhat depend on how well Rodriquez performs for the remainder of the year. Hopefully that means the Mets were just looking to dump KRod's contract and didn't really care who they got back, they just wanted some bodies.
KRod just recently switched his agent to Scott Boras, on Monday in fact. With this switch came these immediate comments from Boras; “Francisco Rodriguez is a historic closer, he's not going anywhere to be a setup man.” and “Closers don't make good setup men. Does anyone want an unhappy setup man in their clubhouse?” Now one could read those comments and nod along and say, damn, KRod's gonna blow up in Milwaukee. But I'll take a different approach and it involves the little vested option for next year.
In KRod's contract, it states that if he finishes(not necessarily saves) 55 games this year, he will be vested for the next year at a salary of around 17 and a half million dollars. He has currently finished 34 games, so 21 to go. That will not happen. There is no way the Brewers will be saddled with that kind of money next for Francisco Rodriguez. This couldn't be happier news for Scott Boras and there's a reason KRod was sent to a team like the Brewers. You see, those quotes were made on Monday before this trade and after the announcement that Boras would be his agent, he knew the Mets wanted off the hook for that almost 18 million dollar vesting and that there was a very real chance they took him off his 9th inning duties if they couldn't move him. This was a hedge move by Boras, he would publicly remind the Mets that if they did decide to go this route, he could and would tell his client to shit the bed right then and there. Everyone else in the league would become blatantly aware of why KRod performed so poorly and it was because the Mets just screwed him out of 18 million. What does Boras have to gain from getting KRod out of that vesting? Well that's pretty obvious, Boras didn't negotiate this contract so he won't see a dime of the money and Scott Boras is not a man that works hard to get someone else paid.
For this reason alone, I think you will see a very happy and a very cooperative Francisco Rodriguez coming into the 8th inning and pitching as well as he can for the Brewers. A good showing will remind clubs next year that he can still close and that he is still under 30 and deserves a big 5 year contract. This will of course be a foolish contract. Rodriguez being the set up man for the remainder of the year also plays right into Boras' hands and you can bet this trade has made him very happy.
I like this trade for the Brewers, it's very little risk long term even if it is more of a psychological gain than an actual performance boost to our bullpen. We've made the first move in the NL Central and now the eyes will be on the Cardinals, Red and Pirates to match or shuffle forward.
Now we just need a new shortstop, wonder what JJ Hardy's doing in Baltimore?