A handful of teams already have expressed trade interest in Brewers right-hander Francisco Rodriguez, who accepted salary arbitration from the club Wednesday.
The Brewers plan to regroup, sort through their options and speak with K-Rod to determine if he is willing to continue in a setup role. But they do not necessarily plan to trade him.
Rodriguez, 29, is coming off a $12.3 million average salary in his last contract, and some project that he could earn $13 million to $14 million in arbitration.
The Brewers see it differently.
Jonathan Papelbon, the top free-agent closer this off-season, will earn an average of $12.5 million with the Phillies. Heath Bell, the only closer with 40 or more saves in each of the past three season, will earn an average of $9 million with the Marlins.
Rodriguez, in the Brewers’ estimation, will slot somewhere between Bell and Papelbon. And while a salary in the $10 million range would be exorbitant for a setup man, the Brewers essentially were going to spend $7 million to $8 million if they had lost K-Rod - $4 million to $5 million on a setup man, and $3 million on the two draft picks they would have received as compensation.
Then again, a trade might be the best option if Rodriguez is going to raise a fuss about being a setup man, as he did on occasion after the Brewers acquired him from the Mets last season. K-Rod effectively chose to return to the team when he accepted arbitration. That doesn’t mean he will be content.