K-Rod May Not Close for Brewers

Though we really shouldn’t care about K-Rod now that he’s left the Mets, it’s interesting — to me, anyway — that he is going to a below-the-radar team that already has a closer, but a “no-name” one at that.

I imagined that K-Rod would wind up with someone like the Yankees — who have Mariano Rivera — or the Red Sox (Jon Papelbon), and he’d have no choice but to be happy in a setup role. On a big-market team with a well-known closer, K-Rod wouldn’t really have the option of demanding to close.

But now that he’s a Brewer, K-Rod and his new agent Scott Boras may do just that.

My ESPN SweetSpot colleague Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker had this immediate reaction to the trade:

This is absolutely not the final piece. The Brewers still desperately need a SS and could definitely use a 3B as well.

The pen didn’t need a closer — John Axford will remain in the closer’s role, more likely — but it did need a pitcher that could get outs from both sides of the plate. The only two guys in the Brewers bullpen who could really be counted on for that prior to the move were Axford and Takashi Saito, who can’t pitch on back-to-back days yet due to an injury.

That said, there are no real concerns about the vesting option, as I believe Axford will continue to close.

Jack goes into further detail on his blog: Milwaukee Brewers Acquire Francisco Rodriguez — check it out.

Boras has already started rumbling about K-Rod being a closer. According to Jon Heyman:

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.

It will be interesting to watch how this drama plays out — particularly considering that the Brewers are most certainly in the hunt and something like this could create negativity in the clubhouse.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike July 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm
    I thin Krod and Boras want him to be a free agent next year. Here’s several reasons why:

    Boras gets nothing if Krod’s option vests. That deal was signed under another agent, so that money is not his.

    Krod stands to make more money long term if he performs well with the Brewers. In whatever role they give him.

    Krod will get save opportunities once the danger of his option vesting (i.e. he has x number of games to complete and there are only x+n games left where n is a small enough reasonable number). In other words if Krod has 15 games left to finish for the pot of gold, and there are 20 games left, and Jon Axford is choking or hurt, then Krod will start saving games knowing that the option wont vest so long as they don’t need him every night.

    So Krod and Boras are best served performing well but not getting the option to vest. 3 years thirty million is doable for next year. Better than one year 17.5 million and no money for Boras.

  2. Joe July 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm
    “Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker ” is a kewl name, but seriously, it’s hard for me to care about the Brewers.

    I personally can’t quite accept it is in the NL.

  3. Jack July 14, 2011 at 3:29 am
    Of course he’s not closing – the Brewers would NEVER have acquired him if they thought he’d reach the 55 games finished mark.

    The only way he starts closing games is if Axford gets hurt – and then the Brewers are in trouble.

    • Mike July 14, 2011 at 10:13 am
      Not when they have Takashi Saito. He can close. Again, until they know Krod’s option won’t vest he wont be closing and finishing games. After that then why not? If it can’t vest he will be finishing games. It’s silly not to.