Mets Fans Will Have Francisco Rodriguez to Kick Around Next Season

Closer and team settle grievance stemming from fight with father-in-law

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Anyone hoping that the Mets could get out from under Francisco Rodriguez's contract because he hurt his thumb while fighting with his girlfriend's father is going to be disappointed to hear that the Mets settled their grievance with the closer on Tuesday afternoon.

    Under the terms of the settlement, K-Rod will tell the MLB Players Association not to challenge the Mets' decision to withhold his salary from the August 11th alleged assault through the end of the season. He'll be foregoing $3.1 million all told, a nice chunk of change, and the Mets will be dropping any right to make his contract for 2011 non-guaranteed. That means he retains his $11.5 million salary for 2011 and still has a shot at his $17.5 million vesting option for the 2012 season.

    The only hope for those who would like to see anyone but K-Rod closing games next season is for the legal process to take him away from the team. That seems unlikely. While he still faces charges for the altercation and for violating a restraining order by sending text messages to his girlfriend, they are misdemeanors and all signs point to him being ready to go when the Mets head to Port St. Lucie in February.

    This is a good development for the Mets and for Rodriguez. It isn't good because of anything having to do with Rodriguez's ability or because what he allegedly did wasn't seriously screwed up, it's good because the Mets need to have this hanging over their heads all offseason like they need a Jason Bay hole in the head.

    We know that there will be a new general manager and a new manager in the fold before too much longer and they don't need to deal with reminders of the mess that came before. What's more, the Mets weren't trying to void the contract because they actually thought what K-Rod did was wrong -- he pitched after the incident, after all -- but because they saw a chance to drop a salary that they no longer wanted. It's a nice idea, but you can't have your cake and eat it too.

    If Rodriguez is healthy, he deserves to earn the next year of his contract. A $3.1 million fine and whatever the justice system doles out is punishment enough for punching a guy.

    As for K-Rod, it is nice to see him admit responsibility for his injury and accept the loss of money that comes with it.

    Personally, in this situation, I do not feel that it is right for me to take a salary for the period of time in which I could not contribute as a player as a result of my off-field actions," he said. "I look forward to being a part of the 2011 Mets and hopefully beyond. I want to put these issues behind me, and behind this organization and its fans.

    It is eminently fair that he not get paid for the last two months of the season because he hurt himself off the field doing something that could have been easily avoided. People often rail against the lack of accountability among professional athletes, for good reason, so it's nice to see one actually standing up and saying he was wrong.

    The whole theme of this Mets offseason should be, to borrow a phrase from MSNBC, "Lean Forward." Getting this off the table is a big step in that direction.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.