NEW YORK (CBSNewYork / AP) — The Mets made their first move in what could be a busy month for general manager Sandy Alderson, trading their big-time closer to Milwaukee.
The Mets sent former All-Star reliever Francisco Rodriguez packing to the Brewers on Tuesday night for two players to be named later. The trade was announced only a half-hour after the All-Star game.
The Brewers also received $5 million from the Mets as part of the exchange, according to multiple reports.
New York is 46-45 in the NL East and 11 games behind Philadelphia and 7½ behind Atlanta in the wild-card race. This was the first major trade for Alderson since taking over the Mets in the offseason.
“We thank Frankie for his contributions to the Mets and wish him well with the Brewers,” Alderson said. “This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief as well.”
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Rodriguez is in his 10th major league season. He is 32-27 with 291 saves and a 2.54 ERA with the Angels and Mets, who signed him as a free agent after his record-setting year.
Bobby Parnell will likely serve as closer for manager Terry Collins.
“He can do it, and he knows it,” Rodriguez said last week. “He definitely has the tools.”
Now the question is: who’s next to go for the Mets? Will Carlos Beltran be shipped out before the July 31 deadline, or — gasp — Jose Reyes?
A Reyes trade isn’t likely, but has been much-feared among fans. The prevailing thought is Alderson will try to clear enough payroll for the cash-strapped Mets to make a run at re-signing their All-Star shortstop.
Rodriguez has a contract clause that guarantees him $17.5 million in 2012 if he finishes 55 games this year. The right-hander has currently finished 34 and is on pace to achieve the mark, but the Mets won’t have to worry about the albatross clause.
“Francisco has been one of the best relievers in the game for many years,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. “He is a high-quality arm who will be a tremendous asset to our bullpen as we prepare for the final months of the regular season and playoffs.”
The 29-year-old Rodriguez is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 23 saves, a year after a fracas with a family member at Citi Field led to his arrest, an injury and the early end of his season. He is a four-time All-Star and set the single-season saves record with 62 in 2008 with the Angels.
The Brewers traded for top starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason. They’ve made the playoffs just once since winning the American League pennant in 1982, and are faced with the prospect of watching star slugger Prince Fielder leave via free agency after the season.
Fielder was the MVP of the All-Star game, hitting a three-run homer in the National League’s 5-1 victory.
“That is a really big trade. He can really help us, he is a great player. It definitely gives us a spark. We are in first place now and getting him gives us a little more help,” Fielder said.
“He is going to bring the success he has had in his career, his confidence. He is going to keep doing what he is doing. You can’t go wrong when you get that kind of talent. You can never have too many guys. No discredit to (John) Axford at all, but to get him, too, is great,” he said.
Milwaukee is tied with St. Louis for the NL Central lead, and Axford has done well as its closer. The Brewers, however, have had trouble finding steady setup men.
“As a player, you appreciate it because you are going out there every day. When management does a move like … they are trying their best to help as much as they can,” Fielder said.
“If we got a shot we know (Melvin) is going to do something to get that extra push. If we play hard and we have a shot, he is going to do everything he can,” he said. “It is a great night.”
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