K-Rod holding Brewers’ offseason in his hands

A lot can change in a day at the Winter Meetings. Just take a look at the Francisco Rodriguez arbitration decision, which is now expected to go right down to the wire.

Around 7 p.m. Central Tuesday night, Peter Gammons tweeted out that it was unlikely that Philadelphia’s Ryan Madson and K-Rod would accept arbitration. There were still quite a few possible closer jobs available for both, even if they were on teams that would be less competitive than the Phillies and Brewers.

Then the Mets signed Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch, and traded for Ramon Ramirez. The Padres, who had been talking to Rodriguez about a multiyear deal, then swung an intra-division trade for Huston Street to replace Heath Bell. The Red Sox seem to be in trade talks for Andrew Bailey. There are still jobs for the taking out there, but they’re drying up in a hurry.

As we talked about last night, it’s unlikely Rodriguez will be able to get a similar yearly salary to the $12 to $15 million he’d get if he agreed to the Brewers’ offer of arbitration. That’s what makes this a difficult decision for him. Does he take all the money he can for 2012, even if it means taking a hit to his ego (and future value) by setting up for John Axford again? Or does he take the long-term security (and save opportunities) somewhere else?

And as we also noted last night, if K-Rod were to accept arbitration, it could wreak havoc on any plans Doug Melvin had for this offseason. It seems as though at least a couple signings are dependant on Rodriguez declining, with the Brewers reportedly close to re-upping with Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins waiting until midnight to see what happens. Needless to say, if K-Rod does accept, that also likely means the Brewers are out on Aramis Ramirez, as the two are likely looking for similar salaries.

We’ll find out what happens in a few hours, but for now, Francisco Rodriguez is effectively holding the Brewers’ offseason hostage.

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