The Mets’ trade of reliever Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers offers insight into at least one aspect of the team’s approach to an even bigger deal – the one involving outfielder Carlos Beltran.
The Mets sent $5 million to the Brewers, covering the rest of Rodriguez’s salary for this season; the Brewers will be responsible for K-Rod’s $3.5 million buyout.
With Beltran, who will be owed about $6 million at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, the Mets are equally willing to include a large sum of cash, according to major-league sources.
In the team’s view, the money already is spent.
The return for Rodriguez was minimal – two minor leaguers to be named, neither of whom is expected to be a quality prospect. But the Mets believe that Beltran can bring them two or three quality youngsters, depending upon how much money they include in the deal.
The Giants appear to be active suitors for Beltran – “I guess we’re in talks with them about Beltran,” closer Brian Wilson said after the All-Star G ame. Beltran, though, has a full no-trade clause. Unlike Rodriguez, who could not block his trade to the Brewers, Beltran can effectively choose his next team in conjunction with his agent, Scott Boras.
The Mets are in discussions with a number of teams on Beltran. It’s possible that Boras might prefer the outfielder to go to the American League and prove he can handle a designated hitter’s role before becoming a free agent. Many in the industry also expect Boras to seek a form of compensation – probably a cash bonus - for Beltran to waive his no-trade clause.
While the Mets moved quickly on Rodriguez, they aren’t necessarily in a rush on Beltran; they might prefer to wait for the returns of injured shortstop Jose Reyes, third baseman David Wright and first baseman Ike Davis, all of which could happen by the end of the month.
By trading Rodriguez – and clearing his potential $17.5 million salary for 2012 – the Mets created payroll flexibility for Reyes, a potential free agent whom the team wants to retain.
The team can spend the second half evaluating Jason Isringhausen, Bobby Parnell and possibly even Pedro Beato as closing options for next season.