Scouting the Trade Market: Francisco Rodriguez

Ugly night on the mound at all levels
Mailbag: First Pitch Swinging, OF Arms, DotF

As the revolving door of the Yankee bullpen swung open on Friday night, it was hard to believe the rogue’s gallery of relievers who came out to stop the Mariners had been among the best in the game this year. Hector Noesi, Boone Logan, Luis Ayala — seventh best in the AL only when sorted by last name — all made their appearances and kept the Mariners scoreless. Only Mariano, the future Hall of Famer, faltered, and he along with Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson are the arms in which we trust.

So somehow, after 54 games and with $17.75 million worth of relievers on the disabled list, the Yankees have a great bullpen. The pen’s 2.88 ERA is tops in the AL, and their strike out and walk rates are both among the top four in the league. On the flip side, their relievers have thrown 159.1, and as Mike explored, their troika of top relievers is racking up the pitches thrown. The club will have to bolster its bullpen either within or without.

Enter Francisco Rodriguez: Yankee fans have never taken to K-Rod. He came out of nowhere to help down the Bombers in the 2002 ALDS, and he served as foil in the 2005 playoffs as well. As the Mets’ closer, he has had a tumultuous time in New York. He was, of course, on the mound celebrating as Luis Castillo dropped that pop-up, and he was arrested for assault last year in an altercation that caused a season-ending injury. He also one of the Mets’ prime trade chips.

This year, very quietly, K-Rod is putting together a stellar season. With his save in the Mets’ comeback on Thursday, he has now appeared in 27 games — and finished 21 of them — while posting a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings. He has allowed a hit per inning and 13 walks but has yet to surrender a home run and has alluringly struck out 27.

Now, the Mets are in a predicament with Rodriguez. He is making $11.5 million this year and holds a performance-based option for 2012 that’s worth a whopping $17.5 million. If he closes out 55 games this year and his two-year total of games finished tops 100, the option vests automatically. If not, then he is owed only $3.5 million, and that’s why trading him must be part of the Mets’ plan. They can’t afford to pay and shouldn’t be paying a closer $17.5 million, but he’s on pace for well over 60 games finished this year.

So how about the Yankees? At some point, you might say, the Yankees have to stop acquiring overpaid, one-inning relievers. It hasn’t worked out for them since the days of Steve Karsay, and yet, the Yankees are still doling out contracts to guys left and right only to see them wind up on the disabled list. Rodriguez, though, would be just a rental, and if the Yankees are willing to take on most of his remaining salary along with the $3.5 million buy out they will owe him when, as a non-closer, he doesn’t get to his games finished milestone, the price tag should be relatively cheap. Pick a second-tier prospect and adjust accordingly for cash contributions.

Of course, as we’ve noted over the last few weeks, the Yankees and Mets do not trade with each other too frequently. They last sent Mike Stanton to Queens for Felix Heredia in 2004 and before that, tried to plug Armando Benitez into the Bronx for a handful of disastrous games. For the Mets, trading their closer to the Yankees would be one of many potential white flags, and if they get no return outside of financial relief while the Yanks add K-Rod as a third set-up option, the Shea Faithful won’t be too pleased.

For the Yankees, though, K-Rod is another potential target. He just might be the most available reliever out there, and unless the club truly expects Soriano, Marte or Feliciano to return at full strength any time this season, he should be a potential trade target.

Ugly night on the mound at all levels
Mailbag: First Pitch Swinging, OF Arms, DotF
  • JobaWockeeZ

    I will literally go to a hospital and punch a newborn baby if Soriano and KRod are on this team.

    • Benjamin Kabak


      • Gonzo

        What’s the metaphoric equivalent of punching a newborn in the face?

  • Squishy Jello Person

    This is a joke, right?

    • Gonzo

      Why? Why wouldn’t the Mets a) eat a lot of money and b) take a lesser prospect if it means saving $17.5mm next year.

      If both criteria are met, why wouldn’t the Yankees check out a relief pitcher that would be cheap prospect and $ wise?

      • Squishy Jello Person

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the Mets, but I don’t think it’s a good deal for the Yankees.

        • Gonzo

          Talent-wise, isn’t he an upgrade for the ‘pen?

    • Kiersten

      I only read the headline and my exact reaction was:

      “No, no, no, no, no.”

  • iloveyoubartolo

    Expensive draft picks.

  • Andrew518

    No “F”ing way!

  • ADam

    stop with all the Mets.. please stop…. I can’t take it……

    • Benjamin Kabak

      That’s just emotion talking, no?

    • Squishy Jello Person

      Beltran, yes. K-Rod no. Reyes, maybe.

  • bonestock94

    He’s a mega-douche but he’s a solid reliever that could be had for a reasonable cost. Sucks we even have to have this convo, maybe Feliciano and Soriano will come back and make this unnecessary. Ha.

  • Xstar7

    Would the Yankees have to give up any A prospects for this guy? If so, I’m not sure if just a half season of K-Rod is worth it.

    • Mike Axisa

      No way. I think if the Yankees agree to take on the rest of his salary plus his $3.5M buyout, the Mets would hand him over for a PTBNL.

  • Kevin G.

    Funny thing is that if you ask Met fans they say they won’t trade these guys and resign them all. I guess they don’t realize that they’re in a rebuilding phase.

  • Russelling

    There is no chance he becomes a Yankee. We don’t go for players who behave like him.

    • Rainbow Connection

      At least he had the balls to hit a man, unlike wife-beater DiMaggio.

  • Yankee Bigot

    Screw K-rod. I’d rather have a LOOGY who can actually get lefties out. Does anyone really trust Poon Logan???

  • JerseyJohn

    As was stated in the original post, the Mets would take a PR beating if they did this move. IMHO the Yanks would consider this move if Soriano is out for the season. Makes for fun speculation but the Mets can find some other team that needs Rodriquez and not get crushed on WFAN for trading with the Evil Empire

  • Sean C

    Can we get him for the same/less than we used to get Wood last season? I can’t remember at this point (but I know someone out there will). If so, I’m in. It isn’t a bad idea to pick up a reliever by the deadline at this point. That “JoSoMo” and other nonsense got out of hand. These relievers can only pitch so many innings and still be effective. It wouldn’t surprise me if they get tired/injured/less effective down the stretch based on the current workloads. Though, for Cashman a trade to improve the bench and bullpen for the second half push seems to be a given at this point.

    • JohnnyC

      For that matter, we could re-acquire Kerry Wood. Cubs aren’t going anywhere and Wood wouldn’t have a real problem with returning. Also, his $1.5 million 1 year deal is literally a steal.

  • Kiersten

    Because we don’t have enough overpaid relievers on the DL?

  • Joseph Cecala

    We had Mike Stanton the awesome OF on the Marlins?!?!

  • LA Sean

    “As the revolving door of the Yankee bullpen swung open on Friday night…”

    How do you swing open a revolving door?

    • the tenth inning stretch

      I believe Chuck Norris is the only person to succesfully do so.

  • greatscott723

    You know, I don’t remember Benitez being that atrocious for the Yanks. He was only on the team for about a month anyway before they flipped him for the more reliable Jeff Nelson down the stretch in 03.

    • jim p

      Not remembering is a known self-protection device after trauma.

  • Jonathan

    My thoughts turn to the Kerry Wood deal. Krod is producing better but Wood didn’t have that ridiculous option looming over his head. The Mets HAVE to trade Krod or the option will kick in. And basically anyone trading for him has to have a better closer so he doesn’t finish 55 games with them. And as much as I hate the guy, there aren’t that many better/more established closers than him. So teams like the Cardinals who need relief help are worthless as trade partners. I dunno the exact list, but teams with better closers who could take that much money on for a setup guy aren’t exactly growing on trees. And I’m sure we’d take on the money instead of giving up the prospects. I don’t like the guy but as a couple of months rental who could at the very least keep Robertston/Joba/Mo rested for the stretch playoffs and at the very least give us a ridiculous pen, I’d be willing to put emotions aside.

    Now imagine if we made this trade and Soriano and one of the lefties came back. Robertson/Krod/Joba/Soriano/MO plus two lefties would be death. People always overplay the whole deal about having a great pen will make up for a sketchy rotation, but if you had those 5 healthy and effective, we’re talking about only needing 4 or 5 from the starters. I know this is dreaming and we’d be lucky for one of Soriano/Marte/Feliciano to be even decent this year if they return but that bullpen sure would help Nova.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    “As the Mets’ closet, he has had a tumultuous time in New York.”

    I enjoyed that typo.

  • Bpdelia

    Here’s the beauty, and why this is actually possible. No ONE is gonna acquire krod to close for them. NO ONE NO WAY NO HOW. And only three teams can afford to pay his salary to pitch in setup s situations. And we might be the only team willing to pay ALL that contact. Plus he will be a type A who won’t take arb here to pitch the seventh.

    YES.YES YEs.

    Mo, krod, soriano, joba, drob, logan noesi is the best bullpen ever. On par with the early 90s jays.

    Yes please.

    Did I mention yes?

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    As of today, KRod and Beltran are owed a collective $23.3M in guaranteed contractual obligations going forward ($7.59M for 66% of KRod’s 2011 season plus the $3.5M buyout, $12.21M for 66% of Beltran’s 2011 season).

    I’ll take them both for David Phelps, Steve Garrison, Justin Maxwell, and 10M in cash.

    We get an upgrade at RF/DH/PH and the 7th/8th inning, the Mets get a few fringy prospects to help depth and remove $13.3M from the 2011 books and $14M from the 2012 books.

    • the tenth inning stretch

      I’d be stoked if that happened.

    • Ted Nelson

      If you’re the Mets why wouldn’t you split them up and get a Phelps for both of them, probably without having to kick in the full $10 mill?

  • Matt Imbrogno

    My heart says (safe)

    My head says yeah, that might make sense. He’s always kept homers down and his 3.61 xFIP isn’t scary. If it can be done for cash and a fringy guy, let’s do it.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Who next? Paps?

    • SDM

      nah its going to be a heath bell rumor next, then rumors that the yankees will trade Cano, Grandy an Montero for Neftali Feliz

      • V

        Batshit insane.

        This isn’t a ‘rumor’. This is speculation as to what a good move might be. Ben is not parroting (or pretending to parrot) a front office official saying who the Yankees are targeting.

        • SDM

          its meant to be insane, because I’m making fun of people thinking NY is basically a fantasy team where every stupid idea/rumor must be made

  • Yank The Frank

    With his delivery he looks like an accident waiting to happen. I’m very surprised he has lasted this long. If the Yankees got him, it’s a sure thing he will be having TJ surgery in August.

  • Matty Ice

    K-Rod is a headcase. Would he be OK switching to a setup role?

  • Mike HC

    How could the Mets not trade him? I don’t know if the Yanks will get him, I’m sure Cashman will inquire, but that is a no brainer move for the Mets. Either for the salary relief, or eating the salary and getting a couple of young, cheap players in return.

  • Ted Nelson

    The PR implications are definitely there theoretically, but I question using the lack of recent trades between the Yankees and Mets as evidence the Mets will try to avoid trading with the Yankees. If you were looking at it that way in 2005 you’d assume the Yankees and Mets traded together every season due to the Ventura and Benitez deals. Recent regimes might be colder to the Yankees, but it could also be a function of sample size.

    There are other teams the Yankees haven’t made a relevant trade with in a long time. By and large I don’t think that means those teams are avoiding trading with the Yankees, just that they haven’t matched up in a long time.

    The Mets are also usually a “buyer” just like the Yankees, so that should make it less likely they’ll match up on a trade.

    Maybe the Mets want to avoid a trade with the Yankees, but I’m not sure their last trade together is evidence. I’m hesitant to give examples since I’m probably forgetting a trade or two, but between the Giants and Dodgers I can’t remember any Yankees trades in a while. The Dodgers basically let Martin walk instead of taking Cervelli for him, no? I would be hesitant to explain that away as due to their NY roots.