According to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the Brewers have traded for Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez for two players to be named later. And here we all thought the most surprising Brewers news of the night would be Prince Fielder winning the All-Star Game MVP award.
The wisdom of this move obviously depends on who the two PTBNL are, but giving up anything of real value for a half season of relief pitching will always make me a little worried. Much like the trades for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, though, the Brewers are a better team after making the move. Rodriguez has been good for the Mets the past season and a half after a rocky first year in Queens, striking out 10.52 batters per 9 innings last season and putting up a 9.70 K/9 so far this year. Not quite John Axford strikeout numbers, but he does walk less batters.
Don’t jump to conclusions with this trade, though. Rodriguez won’t be closing for the Brewers, and while Doug Melvin is saying it won’t happen because they believe in Axford, the reasons are more than likely monetary.
Rodriguez has a $17.5 million option for 2012 that automatically vests if he finishes 55 games in 2011, and has already finished 34 this year, so he’s just 21 away from that mark. The option can be bought out for $3.5 million, though, and if the money coming back to the Brewers isn’t just to help him fit into this season’s budget, it could at least be buyout insurance if Axford falters.
This is a pure rental for the Brewers, and everything being reported makes it sound like the Mets sold him for 50 cents on the dollar just to dump his salary, so chances are the Brewers didn’t have to give up much. Still, I can’t bring myself to like this deal, even though it won’t be as bad as the Linebrink trade of 2007. Maybe part of it has to do with actually being in New York for his first couple years there and experiencing his blowups (on and off the field) — I will fully admit to being corrupted by my Mets fan friends.
I think my biggest problem with the deal is this: the Brewers have very little to work with when it comes to making midseason acquisitions this year when it comes to both prospects and budget space. While the prospects going to New York won’t be anything we’ll lose much sleep over, they are two less prospects the team could use in a deal for something they actually needed (like a shortstop). The bullpen has cost the team a few wins in the first half, but black holes at short and third base have been much more damaging to the team’s chances at a playoff run.