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francisco rodriguez

Mets Start Player Exodus by Trading K-Rod

DENVER, CO - MAY 12:  Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets works against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning at Coors Field on May 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Mets defeated the Rockies 9-5.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) See ya, K-Rod.

Of all the players to be potentially dealt by the Mets before the July 31 deadline, Francisco Rodriguez was the one who needed to go the most desperately. The irony is that he was the one who probably least wanted to leave. The Mets needed K-Rod off their roster before he finished 55 games this year (he already had 34), lest his Omar Minaya–gifted $17.5 million option kick in and leave the Mets crippled further next year. K-Rod wanted to stay here because he would have remained the closer (the players' union would have stepped in had the Mets removed him from the role for contract purposes rather than performance) and made that option more likely to vest. Last night, the Mets won.

Just after the All-Star Game ended, SI.com's Jon Heyman broke the news (over Twitter, of course; heaven forbid the company that pays him to break news publish the news he broke before a third-party website for whom Heyman writes for free) that the Mets had shipped Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers for "cash and two players to be named later." It was later reported by the Post's Joel Sherman — also over Twitter — that the "cash" is $8.5 million: $5 million for his salary the rest of this year, and $3.5 million for the buyout on his contract next year. It is not known whether or not the Mets still have to pay the $3.5 million if the Brewers use K-Rod as closer enough for him to finish 21 more games and activate the 2012 contract. (Something they're unlikely to do, no matter what Rodriguez's new agent, Scott Boras, says.)

Either way, it's a terrific deal for the Mets, no matter who the players they get back are. (Unless one of them is Rodriguez.) K-Rod has had a perfectly fine season, but he has no business being paid $17 million for next season, no matter what the Mets' financial situation is. There are players the Mets might trade that will get them back appreciable player assets, but K-Rod wasn't one of them: They just needed him off their roster. Any usable players down the line, that's gravy.

K-Rod was brought to the Mets by Minaya as part of the great bullpen salvation of 2009, along with J.J. Putz. Neither player stabilized the bullpen, not that it mattered, because the rest of the team subsequently imploded. He wasn't awful for the Mets — which is why the Brewers, all-in for the NL Central this year, the last year of Prince Fielder's contract, wanted him — but he wasn't worth the money, which, you might remember, is a bit of a Mets motif. Not that what he did on the field really mattered; he'll forever be remembered for punching his girlfriend's father in the face after a game at Citi Field. That seems like a long time ago. With K-Rod now heading to the heartland, it feels even further away now. That's very good. That's the point.

Oh, and Beltran ... you're next.

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Photo: Doug Pensinger/2011 Getty Images