The Difficulty of Dealing K-Rod

Contract and role make a K-Rod trade difficult.

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011  |  Updated 9:58 AM EDT
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The Difficulty of Dealing K-Rod

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Trading K-Rod is as fraught with danger as many of his appearances.

The nice thing about reaching midseason is that even the most mathematically challenged among us can figure out how to project the final numbers for baseball players who haven't missed significant time with injury.

All you have to do is multiply by two and when you do that to Francisco Rodriguez's numbers you find that he's on pace to finish more than 55 games this season.

As even the smallest infant in New York City knows by now, K-Rod's $17.5 million option for 2012 vests when he finishes his 55th game of the year and that clause might make life difficult for the Mets.

If they want to trade Rodriguez, it behooves them to do it when Rodriguez is still far away from the magic (or tragic) number. A team like the Rangers, rumored to be interested in Rodriguez's services, could deal for him as a set-up man and potential replacement for Neftali Feliz if Feliz gets hurt.

But if you wait until July 31, Rodriguez could be close enough to 55 that the Rangers or any other team would be wary of risking such a big payout in the event of needing K-Rod to close games. Pulling the trigger early has other ramifications, however.

If the Mets deal K-Rod, the back of their bullpen will be turned over to, guessing here, Jason Isringhausen and that's not exactly a recipe for lockdown ninth innings. So dealing K-Rod now would be a signal that the Mets are more focused on the future than on this year.

Making that kind of statement would make it very hard for Sandy Alderson to not actively solicit trade offers for Jose Reyes.

While we understand the differences between Reyes and Rodriguez, the Mets have to have some idea if they are willing to do what it takes to sign Reyes after the season and, if they aren't, hearing out other teams is the very least they can afford to do if the 2011 season is not a priority.

Tired of ifs? We've got a few more.

Let's say the Mets close the first half strong and find themselves in position to make a serious run at the Wild Card spot. Trading K-Rod would send a very mixed message about that pursuit and not trading him would almost guarantee that his option vests because the Mets couldn't justify pulling him from the closer spot while simultaneously playing meaningful games.

And then there's the whole thing about how if you don't trade K-Rod before the next full moon, he turns into a werewolf that will devour Jose Reyes at the slightest provocation.

Maybe that's pushing it, but there really is a lot that will go into and flow from whatever decision the Mets make about Rodriguez. When they make it, we'll have a much clearer idea of where the team is headed in both the long and short term.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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