Today in Mets’ History: Fire sale begins with K-Rod. Vote in poll.

There were always assumptions made of this season, and early today one became reality in a positive stroke for the Mets.

The Mets traded reliever Francisco Rodriguez and $5 million in cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named later. Never mind the two players, the Mets won because they got out from under Rodriguez’s daunting $17.5 million vesting option.

RODRIGUEZ: We don't hate to see you go.

The Mets’ press release was timed at 12:25 a.m., so on this date in club history the fire sale began. And, make no mistake, there will be a sale regardless of how well the team has played, but we knew that all along.

Carlos Beltran, who said at the All-Star Game he would accept a deal, is on deck.

“This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief as well,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said of shedding Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s option kicks in if he finishes 55 games, which would have been a certainty at the rate he was going. That’s something the financially struggling Mets desperately needed to avoid as they deliberate what to do with Jose Reyes.

Let’s face it, as well as the Mets played in the first half, they face too steep a hill to reach the playoffs as a wild card, much less win the division. They trail Philly by 11 games and wild-card leader Atlanta by 7.5, but have four teams to leapfrog to reach the Braves.

Of all the players the Mets reportedly were seeking to deal, Rodriguez was the priority because of his option. That priority became more acute after Rodriguez dumped his agent and hired Scott Boras.

Rodriguez was to be paid $11.5 million this season, and considering the $5 million they are kicking in, the Mets will pay all but $750,000 due him.

So, who closes now?

Since Jason Isringhausen has performed successfully in that role – and pitched well this season – he should get first crack. That is, of course, until they trade him, which is a strong possibility as the Mets turn into sellers. In that case, Bobby Parnell, who has not fully grasped the eighth-inning role, would likely get the opportunity.

I figure as the season wears on, Parnell would receive most of the closing opportunities as to groom him for next year.

As for Rodriguez, since the Brewers weren’t on his no-trade list, they weren’t influenced by Boras’ “my guy won’t set up,’’ static. Rodriguez will be plugged in as the set-up reliever behind John Axford, so in all probability Milwaukee will only be on the hook for the $3.5 million buyout instead of the entire option.

Because the Brewers’ risk for the option is minimized, it made sense for them to make the trade and go for it in the winnable National League Central. They might as well try to win now before losing Prince Fielder.

In evaluating Rodriguez’s stay with the Mets, it was flawed from the outset as then GM Omar Minaya grossly overpaid when he offered the option on top of the three-year,  $37-million contract.

When Rodriguez hit the market, early reports had the price tag at five years and $75 million, numbers that likely influenced Minaya’s decision to offer the option. However, Minaya was bidding against himself as there were concerns about Rodriguez’s health and losing something off his fastball, not to mention his combustible temper.

As it turned out, the Mets were the only real suitor for Rodriguez. Even his old team, the Angels, weren’t interested.

Rodriguez’s temper surfaced late last season when he punched the father of his girl friend outside the family lounge at Citi Field and broke his hand. The Mets investigated voiding his contract, but worried about conflict with the Players Association, brokered a deal with Rodriguez where they would not have to pay the balance of last year’s salary in exchange for the opportunity to come back.

In parting, Rodriguez tweeted his appreciation to Mets fans, and said the trade is “a new opportunity.’’

It’s also a good opportunity for the Mets.

 

8 thoughts on “Today in Mets’ History: Fire sale begins with K-Rod. Vote in poll.

  1. This was a trade that helps both teams if frankie can accept a set up role. He crapped out in non save situations a lot as a met. I dont expect much from the minor leaguers. That would just be gravy.

  2. I understand the reasoning and it’s probably to best thing. Get away from the Minaya regime that gave us one NLCS appearance. But it still hurts.

    Not that I expect anything great from the two PTBNL but how exactly do teams do this?Is there any general agreement on say “a grade C prospect in A ball and a grade A in rookie? Are there several names mentioned, perhaps guys currently on the DL, but no final agreement.

    Of course there is the legendary trade in 1962 when the Mets got catcher Harry Citi for a PTBNL and six weeks later shipped Chiti back to complete the deal.

  3. Dan (2): The Brewers gave the Mets a list of prospects from which they’ll choose two. I had to laugh when I read your line about Harry Chiti. Wouldn’t it be the Mets’ luck to offer Rodriguez back? Just a funny thought.-JD

  4. It needed to be done. M&M really screwed the club. and Maddoff just rubbed the salt in the wounds..
    K-Rod was good but was a little unreliable at times. usually screwing the starting pitcher out of a win. Not sure if this happened more often than not, but I am sure we will do well.
    with beltran going to San Fran (if you believe the scuttlebutt) the met’s purse strings should be able to handle keeping Reyes or not..

  5. 3. delcos, maybe selig had something to do with this. it seems like he is really trying to help the mets and his buddy wilpon.

  6. Steve C (5): K-Rod was producing in his walk year, no surprise there. The money they saved in the trade will help toward keeping Reyes, but it won’t be enough to seal the deal. Afterall, the $17.5 million would take care of one year and Reyes wants at least six or seven.-JD

  7. I am glad KRod is gone. At least the threat of paying $18M for an above avg ( not better than that ) closer is gone.

    ray(6) good point