The trade of star closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets to the Brewers works well for both teams. The Brewers added a proven closer who's amassed nearly 300 saves before age 30, while the Mets ridded themselves of the vesting option that hung over them like a noose.
The Brewers look like the bigger winner for now, though, as they badly needed bullpen depth in the tight NL Central and did just that by acquiring Rodriguez plus cash ($5 million, which covers about half K-Rod's remaining 2011 salary and the buyout for 2012 on the vesting option, which is $17.5 million for next year if he finishes 55 games this season). But the Brewers also may have bought themselves a bit of an unwanted issue. They already have a talented closer in John Axford, who has 23 saves and a 2.83 ERA,so they could wind up with a closer controversy.
While they're unlikely to immediately remove Axford from that role, and K-Rod's vesting option provides ample incentive to stick with Axford at the end, Rodriguez's position now is that he wants to stay as a closer. "He's a closer, he's one of the game's best closers,'' Rodriguez's new agent, Scott Boras, said before the trade to Milwaukee was consummated. "And he wants to remain a closer.''
Brewers GM Doug Melvin made the trade before checking with K-Rod, but Boras and Melvin spoke about the subject shortly after the trade. Boras made the case that K-Rod should close, suggesting he wouldn't do nearly as well setting up, while Melvin apparently made no commitment, suggesting only that things "will work out,'' or words to that effect.