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Hartnett: Time For Mets To Shop Around K-Rod As $17.5M Option Looms

'Hart of the Order'
By Sean Hartnett
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Mets general manager Sandy Alderson must make it his main priority to rid of closer Francisco Rodriguez.  With trade speculation ramping up on the futures of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, K-Rod's situation has mostly flown under the radar.

This isn't an overreaction to Rodriguez's meltdown and blown save Thursday night at Turner Field but rather a warning to Alderson and Mets management not to drag their feet over this issue.  It's time to start sending signals that K-Rod is available and quickly complete a deal before he gets near the 55-game mark that would guarantee his 2012 option for $17.5 million.

Rodriguez and his agent know well that no team in baseball would be willing to take on his gargantuan option. Finding a club inclined to offer a multi-year extension shouldn't be a problem.  Talented closers are hard to come by and there will certainly be a taker who is willing to part with a prospect to acquire K-Rod and dangle a new deal in front of him.  Rodriguez has made it known publicly that he is open waiving the option and would likely accept a three-year deal that pays near $10 million per annum.

Some Met fans feel this isn't exactly an open-and-shut case.  Rodriguez has a limited no-trade clause that allows him list ten teams that he can block from acquiring him.  The more optimistic segment of their fan base believes that the Mets could attempt to offer K-Rod an extension to stay in Queens -- but let's be realistic here.  Any money potentially going in the direction of Rodriguez would hinder their slim chances of re-signing Jose Reyes, who for that matter, most definitely wants to test the free agent market this winter.

David Wright seems set to stick around for at least until the end of the 2013 season as his $16 million club option is reasonable.  Extending Wright is a more financially realistic than a deal in the present would be to keep Reyes at Citi Field.  It would also appease fans imploring management to keep hold of Reyes.  An offer in the range of seven years at $161 million would match the sort of money Reyes could command in free agency -- but that's if he wants to remain a Met.

The Mets' financial game plan is to shave salary from their 2012 payroll and rebuild the team around Wright, Ike Davis, Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese.  Moving Rodriguez along with Beltran and Reyes to acquire prospects goes hand in hand with that philosophy.  The ugly truth is that Reyes, Beltran and K-Rod do not want to lock themselves down with a team that hasn't shown a fiscal commitment to building a winning ballclub.  They want to be part of a contender that is ambitious and doesn't carry the uncertain financial baggage that the Mets do.

Unfortunately for Mets fans, they will be waiving goodbye to their trio of K-Rod, Reyes and Beltran before the July 31st trade deadline passes.

Will K-Rod be the first out the door at Citi Field, and will his trade begin a chain of events that will allow Reyes and Beltran to leave Queens?  Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.

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