The Brewers haven’t really made any significant player moves since the end of the season, but that ended today with new GM David Stearns flipping Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Tigers in exchange for two prospects. Although Stearns claims otherwise, the motivation for the move appears fairly straightforward: Rodriguez was guaranteed $7.5 million in 2016 and has a $2 million buyout on a $6 million club option in 2017. Detroit is reportedly eating that entire amount, so there are significant cost savings for the rebuilding Brewers, for whom retaining an expensive, aging closer seems foolhardy.
Not that K-Rod wasn’t effective during his time with the Brewers. He wound up pitching all or part of five consecutive seasons with the Brewers, despite being the subject of repeated trades (and trade rumors). K-Rod racked up a serviceable 2.91 ERA over 268 appearances, finishing 154 games and accumulating 95 saves. That places him at fourth on the franchise all-time saves list, just two shy of mustachioed great Rollie Fingers. Rodriguez was particularly effective in 2011, coming to the Brewers at the trade deadline and tossing 29 innings of 1.86-ERA ball to help the team secure the team’s first division championship since 1982. And despite a great year in 2015 (57 IP, 2.21 ERA, 38 SV), the Brewers couldn’t find a willing trade partner at the deadline – possibly because of K-Rod’s noted off-field issues that include repeated allegations of abuse, including an incident in the Met’s clubhouse.
In return, the Brewers will receive a player to be named later and a Betancourt – not THAT Betancourt, but rather infield prospect Javier Betancourt. Betancourt, who hovers somewhere around 10th on most of the Tigers’ prospect lists, is a light-hitting second baseman noted for his defense, but also has the ability to play at third base – two positions in which the Brewers do not have much current depth. Betancourt doesn’t necessarily have that much upside, but he is a capable body at a scarce position and you can only expect so much when the other team is taking on a sizable salary commitment.