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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deal For K-Rod = Great Move For Brewers (So Long as He's Not Closing)

The Brewers acquired a high-quality bullpen arm last night in Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. K-Rod logged a Major League record 62 saves while pitching for the Angels in 2008. He will slot in nicely as Ron Roenicke's new "8th Inning Guy" in front of Brewers closer John Axford. The addition of Rodriguez strengthens the Brewers bullpen, which already consisted of several late inning, quality arms in Takashi Saito, Latroy Hawkins, Zach Braddock, and yes, Kameron Loe. The Brewers will eventually send two players to be named later to the Mets to complete the trade, which means they'll likely not give up exceptional talent. Indeed, the Mets most likely looked to dump payroll and protect themselves from K-Rod's 2012 vesting option (keep reading for details) by making this trade, given their financial woes.

The Brewers certainly have no plans to use Rodriguez as their closer, for two main reasons. First, John Axford has been nothing short of outstanding over the first half of the season, and there's no reason to expect him not to pitch well in the second half. Second, K-Rod's contract has a $17.5 million vesting option if he finishes 55 games this year. He's already completed 34, and he would become a drag on the Brewers 2012 payroll if they made him the closer. Give the fact that the Brewers gave up little in the trade (probably), will use him as their setup man, thereby qualitatively improving their bullpen, and will most likely not have to worry about his vesting option, this is an excellent trade for the Crew. Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin have again shown us that they're serious about winning in 2011. Expect more moves to come.

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