Is there any doubt left that the Brewers are going for it this year?
On the same night that free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder was the star of stars in the All-Star Game, his Brewers team completed a trade to acquire closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler reports. The first-place Brewers will send two players to be named later to the Mets, who will pay part of Rodriguez's contract.
That contract was thought to be an obstacle to a K-Rod trade, because it includes a $17.5 million option for 2012, which vests if he finishes 55 games (he has 34 already). But things changed once Rodriguez switched agents and hired Scott Boras, because Boras would prefer for K-Rod to become a free agent at the end of the season.
It's possible that Boras will make a deal to buy out the option, probably by increasing the $3.5 million buyout that already exists in the contract.
Rodriguez is 23-for-26 in save situations this year for the Mets. He has a 3.16 ERA, but a career-high 1.16 WHIP. By adding a closer, the Brewers could move John Axford (23-for-25 in save situations) into a set-up role, helping what has been a middle-relief problem for them this year.
They could also have Axford close with K-Rod setting up, which would make it unlikely that the option vests. But again, Boras is not nearly as interested in the option as K-Rod's former agent was.
Rodriguez will be reunited with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who was an Angels coach during the best years of K-Rod's career.
There was never much chance that the financially-strapped Mets were going to keep Rodriguez past this season. The Mets are also likely to trade outfielder Carlos Beltran by the end of the month. It's significantly less likely, but perhaps not impossible, that they would also trade shortstop Jose Reyes.
The Mets will likely use Bobby Parnell as their closer, now that K-Rod is gone.
Fielder is also eligible for free agency at the end of the season, but the Brewers made a decision last winter to keep him and try to win with him one last time. That decision looks good so far, as Fielder had an MVP-type first half and the Brewers entered the All-Star break tied with the Cardinals atop the National League Central.