Francisco Rodriguez Traded to Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers strengthened their bullpen last night by acquiring Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez and cash for 2 players to be named later.

It was no surprise to see Rodriguez change clubs this July, but it came sooner than many expected.  Though the Mets had been aggressively shopping their closer, no real speculation surrounded the deal to the Brewers prior to the trade.

New York had 17.5 million reasons to trade K-Rod this summer.  Rodriguez was under contract through 2011, but his deal also included a $17.5 million option for 2012 that would have vested if the 29 year old finished 55 games this season.  Rodriguez was currently on pace to do so and there was no way the Mets wanted to pick up that tab with their financial uncertainties.

Rodriguez completed 23 of his 26 save opportunities this season for the Mets while putting up an ERA of 3.16.  K-Rod carried a sub-2 earned run average into June but hit a rocky patch which caused the mark to balloon to 3.58 by July.

Over his 3 years with the Mets Rodriguez notched 83 saves over 165 games pitched, holding a SO/9 rate near 10 over that span.

With Rodriguez gone, the Mets are likely to turn to either Jason Isringhausen or Bobby Parnell to close games.  Each has been solid in relief roles for New York this season.

While the team may try and boost Isringhausen’s trade value by having him finish games, the long term choice is definitely Parnell.  The 26 year old has maintained a 2.92 ERA over 23 appearances this season, striking out 30 over his 24.2 innings of work.

Just last week Rodriguez actually endorsed Parnell as a future major league closer.

“He can do it, and he knows it,” Rodriguez said. “I love that kid. I talk to him a lot, and I love him. He’s a guy who comes here every day trying to improve himself to get better and better. He definitely has the tools.”

Entering the break, Brewers’ relievers had the 11th worst ERA in the majors.  They’ve dealt with injuries and inconsistency and general manager Bob Melvin saw the deal as an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“We’re trying to get as many quality pitchers as we can for the last 2½ months of the season,” said Melvin. “We’re trying to get as much quality as we can.”

The move may have surprised some because before the trade Milwaukee already had one of the league’s most consistent closers.  John Axford has converted 23 of 25 save opportunities this season with an ERA and WHIP of 2.83 and 1.35.

“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),” said Melvin.

No matter how the two arms are used, Rodriguez almost certainly won’t be reaching his mark of 55 games finished and thus having his option vested.

Milwaukee will present New York with a list of players and two will be chosen at a later date.

No one knows who will make up the list for sure, but assuming they are middling prospects it appears both sides did alright with this deal.  The Brewers pick up another late inning arm to help their bullpen that’s had its issues in 2011, and New York sheds Rodriguez’s salary and avoids any controversy as K-Rod approached the 55 game mark.

For more on the Mets and Brewers, be sure to check out Rising Apple and Reviewing the Brew.

Topics: Bobby Parnell, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Isringhausen, John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets

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