Mets Trade Francisco Rodriguez to Brewers

Late last night, news broke that the Mets had traded closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers (along with $5 million to help off-set his contract) for two players to be named later. My immediate reaction to hearing the news was twofold: what a no-brainer trade for the Mets, and not a half-bad for the Brewers either.

From the Mets’ perspective, this trade is easy to understand: they wanted to unload Rodriguez’s hefty contract. K-Rod’s contract has widely been considered a clunker and an overpay, but it hasn’t been that bad yet. Rodriguez has been paid a total of $31.5 million for 2.5 seasons with the Mets (average of $10.5 million a year), and they¬†got this total value back: 168 IP, 3.05 ERA, 10 K/9, 4 BB/9, 83 saves, 15 blown saves. He’s no longer one of the best relievers in the game, but he’s still well above-average – around 15-20% above average, putting him in the same range as pitchers like Luke Gregerson, Chris Sale, and Matt Thornton.

Note the key word above, though: his contract hasn’t been that bad yet. Rodriguez has a $17.5 million vesting option for 2012, and it becomes guaranteed if he finishes 55 games this season. Considering Rodriguez has already appeared in 42 games this season, with the vast majority of his appearances coming at the end of the game, his option would have surely vested if he remained with the Mets. The Mets simply wanted to get out from under that onerous option; from the looks of it, they were willing to trade him to any team willing to take him. And I certainly can’t blame them for that.

From the Brewers’ perspective, this trade makes a surprising amount of sense. With John Axford firmly entrenched in the closer role in Milwaukee, it’s likely that K-Rod slides in as a set-up man and doesn’t reach the 55 games closed that would vest his option. And even if Rodriguez’s option does vest for some ridiculous, illogical reason, this is still not a horrible trade for the Brewers.

If the option vests, the Brewers would then pay Rodriguez $17.5 million for essentially 1.5 years of service (prorates to $11.5 million / year), and his help in the bullpen this season could help push the Brewers into a playoff spot. The Brewers are currently tied with the Cardinals for the AL Central lead (and the Pirates are only one game behind them), and Baseball Prospectus gives them a 45% chance of reaching the playoffs. Their bullpen has been mediocre this season, posting a 3.92 ERA (20th in baseball) and 3.68 FIP (10th in baseball), and they could use some high-leverage help outside of Axford. Teams that are close to the reaching the playoffs should be willing to overpay if it will helps improve their team for the late-season run…and it’s still likely that Rodriguez’s option won’t vest.

So even though the Mets aren’t getting much in terms of minor-league talent and the Brewers are taking a calculated risk, I view this trade as a Win-Win. The Mets free up some much-needed payroll space for next season, allowing them to reallocate those funds to more cost-effective routes (like a Jose Reyes extension?), and the Brewers add some talent that should help them make a push for the playoffs. You can’t ask for much more than that.

We hoped you liked reading Mets Trade Francisco Rodriguez to Brewers by Steve Slowinski!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

newest oldest most voted
marcusallan
Member
marcusallan

why would boras let k-rod take this deal? if i’m k-rod, i want to stay with the mets, and keep closing games, no? unless he feels he could get a multi-year deal done after this year..

Jay
Guest

K-Rod had no say in the matter. He could only veto a trade to 10 teams and the Brewers weren’t one of them.

Julian
Guest
Julian

His contract lets him block trades to 10 teams. The Brewers aren’t one of them.

NEPP
Guest
NEPP

Even if he had had say, Boras would rather him hit the market this winter instead of next. Boras doesnt get any commission until he signs a new deal.

Bill
Guest
Bill

I’m pretty sure Boras gets more money if KRod gets more money. He will get more money if KRod’s option vests. But, regardless, as KRod’s agent, Boras is looking out for his client’s best interests, not his own. If it were possible for KRod to block this trade, he probably would. It may well cost him $8 -$10 million dollars.

Steve
Guest
Steve

In fact, Boras gets nothing whether or not the option vests. That deal was negotiated by another agent. Boras is 100% motivated to get Rodriquez to free agency so he can cash in, which has clearly always been his top priority.

NEPP
Guest
NEPP

What Steve said.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu

We have no idea how Boras gets paid. While it’s safe to assume that he’ll get a commission on Rodriguez’ next deal, I wouldn’t assume that he doesn’t get paid anything until then.

Boras has a fiduciary duty to act in his client’s best interests, not his own, and his comments surrounding this trade have been in line with that. Despite the public perception that he’s the devil, I’ve never seen evidence of Boras acting against the interests or wishes of a client.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter

I think both sides are accurate. Boras benefits by Krod becoming a free agent, but his responsibility is to Krod (and Krod is much better off if it vests). I think the crux of the matter is that Krod knew the option would not vest – and Boras knew it as well – so they got together with the expectation that he will be signing a new contract this winter.