The Phillies placed Jose Contreras on the disabled list today, further straining a bullpen that’s already lost closer Brad Lidge. I bring this up because Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger retweeted this info with a comment suggesting that the Mets should call the Phillies and propose trading them Francisco Rodriguez. For some reason, I can’t find the original retweet in McCullough’s timeline (most likely operator error). I was able to find this retweet of a response that kind of sums up the negative response generated by McCullough’s comment.
I’m not bringing this exchange up to criticize McCullough. Far from it, actually. While I don’t relish the thought of helping the Phillies patch a weakness, I don’t think it matters as much as the long-term health of the club. K-Rod’s vesting option could seriously limit the Mets’ roster flexibility. While I could make an argument that $11.5 million is too much to pay a closer, I hope I don’t have to actually debate the merits of paying one $14 million (K-Rod will be owed $3.5 million regardless of whether the option kicks in). Moving that contract should be priority number one, ahead of resigning/dealing Jose Reyes* or finding a trade partner for Carlos Beltran.
*Come to think of it, I bet having that extra $14 million available for other uses might go a long way to resigning Reyes. Just another reason to move that contract.
If that means trading said closer to a division rival, even one who has won the division for three consecutive seasons, so be it. But if that’s a hold-up for you, consider this: the Phillies already have a 2012 payroll that exceeds $112 million. For eleven players, all of whom will be 31 or older. Throw Rodriguez into that mix and suddenly the Phillies owe $129 million to less than half their roster. And that doesn’t factor in an extension for Cole Hamels. In terms of sound roster management we should be thrilled if we give Rodriguez to the Phillies, never mind acquiring a useful prospect.
Yes, I’m ignoring the fact that the Mets would be improving the Phillies’ 2011 roster. I get that the emotional baggage of helping a division rival combined with watching Rodriguez torment his former team is an unpleasant thought for many fans. I understand why that would make this deal untenable for you. I won’t beat you over the head with my arguments but I’ll just add this: would you trade K-Rod for Jose Reyes and a prospect? That’s essentially how this deal could break down, and I’d sign up for that in a minute (even if the “prospect” translated into “replacement-level reliever”).
While we’re on the subject of dealing Rodriguez, I’d like to bring up this post by Mets Today’s Joe Janish. In a purely speculative nature, Janish wonders if the White Sox may be interested in trading for K-Rod. I agree with Joe: it is a “match made in heaven”. Kenny Williams has shown a willingness to ignore bad contracts before (see: Rios, Alex). Ozzie Guillen is all over the place, but his players generally like playing for him. Throw in the fact that both he and Rodriguez (and Omar Vizquel) are Venezuelan, and this might be an ideal landing spot for K-Rod. There’s no substance to this speculation, but I (and, I suspect, most all Mets fans) would be happy to see his option vest on the South Side.