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K-Rod waives his giant option; will be a free agent after the season

Jul 15, 2011, 5:40 PM EDT

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Ken Rosenthal reports that Francisco Rodriguez and the Milwaukee Brewers have made a deal:  K-Rod is waving his $17.5 million option in exchange for additional compensation now. He’ll become a free agent when the season is over.

This makes sense for everyone.  For the Brewers, they can now use Rodriguez in any capacity they wish, be it closing, setup or mopup, without having to worry about the games-finished clause.  For Rodriguez, he gets a chance to enter the free agent market with much better stats — more games; more innings; more saves, most likely — and thus be a far more attractive commodity than he would have been if he had been used sparingly in an effort to avoid the option from triggering.

And of course this is great for Scott Boras who, his posturing notwithstanding, clearly wanted to get his new client on the free agent market ASAP.  After all, if K-Rod got his $17.5 million, that commission would go to the old agent, Paul Kinzer.  A cut of any new deal is all for Boras.

And speaking of Boras, he went on XM Radio today, talking about just how awful a disservice Kinzer did to K-Rod in allegedly not submitting his no-trade list to the Mets before they could ship him to Milwaukee.  I touched on this yesterday, noting that it’s not at all clear that Kinzer really failed in this duty, and even if it is, it was a moot and harmless event.

This new deal — which was clearly already brewing as Boras made his media rounds to slam his rival agent — makes it pretty clear that K-Rod wasn’t harmed at all.  He was eager to go to Milwaukee and once he got there, he struck a deal that is both player and agent-friendly.

So what I’m saying: take Boras’ hand-wringing over that no-trade list with a grain of salt.  Maybe the whole shaker. It’s grandstanding and backbiting. Nothing more.

  1. bloodysock - Jul 15, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Isn’t an agent calling out another agent as bad as a player doing the same? They are both part of a small fraternity, Boras’ ego notwithstanding.

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jul 15, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    One thing’s for certain; K-Rod just let go of his only chance to ever make $17.5 million in a year.

    • bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 6:04 PM

      Yeah but at his age, that extra year could have been a disaster and cost him 50 or 60 million more in his career when Boras is done marketing him.

  3. spudchukar - Jul 15, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Wow. A real compromise, where both sides benefit. What a novel concept.

  4. aaronmoreno - Jul 15, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Because Kinzer also negotiated the buyout, wouldn’t Kinzer contractually HAVE to get his cut from the 3.5 million buyout, even if it didn’t happen?

  5. misterbill99 - Jul 15, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    Do you suppose they also had to agree not to offer arbitration? If they didn’t, this is a big win for the Brewers since they can get their 2 draft picks as there is no chance Boras accepts arbitration.

    • jwbiii - Jul 15, 2011 at 9:55 PM

      No. With the standard 15%-20% raise a FA gets in arbitration and his $11.5M salary for this season, plus his $4M buyout, Rodriguez would be making $17.5M as a set up man next season.

      Boras clients do accept arbitration when it is favorable to them to do so.

      • misterbill99 - Jul 15, 2011 at 10:10 PM

        Maddux at 36 (your example) is a much different situation than K-Rod at 30. Maddux was not likely to get better than a one year deal at that point. K-Rod (and especially Boras) wants to lock up a multi-year deal.

        Do you suppose the additional compensation for waiving the $17.5m option gets added to his base salary for purposes of calculating this year’s salary as a basis for arbitration, should they have offered it to him?

      • jwbiii - Jul 15, 2011 at 10:52 PM

        No. Performance and award bonuses count, buyouts don’t.

        Your argument regarding Maddux would make some sense if he didn’t sign for 3/$24M after his one year arbitration deal was up. Maddux (and Boras, presumably) figured he could get about $15M for one year through arbitration and then go from there and come out ahead on the deal.

      • bigleagues - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:34 AM

        Maddux and Rodriquez is a bad comparison, precisely because one of them is one of the greatest Starting Pitchers of All-time with a legendary track record of durability but, at age 36, coming back to the team he had been with for 10 or so years. The other one, K-Rod, at age 29, is already on the short list of the greatest Closers of all time and just got traded with a vesting option looming.

        Maddux did have other offers (but none for the 5 years/$75 mil that Boras was seeking) and none which would have paid him $14.5 mil for one year, which was the middle figure of what he could have won if he had gone to arbitration. He earned that for having gone 16-6 season with a 2.62 ERA in 2002. However he averaged less than 6 IP per Start, so the caution was warranted on the Braves part.

        No one who is desperate for a blue-chip Closer will get stuck on the Age 29 part for very long.

    • bigleagues - Jul 15, 2011 at 11:48 PM

      I’m not sure if you worded you question wrong by mistake, but the team MUST make a salary arbitration offer in order to qualify for the two compensatory picks that a Type A free agent defection garners. The player can then reject the arbitration figure and sign elsewhere – thus triggering the the awarding of the two picks. Theo Epstein has made an art of this practice.

      • misterbill99 - Jul 16, 2011 at 12:03 AM

        No I did not word it wrong. They can get an agreement that the team will not offer arbitration, which makes the free agent more attractive since there are no draft picks (at least in the current agreement, as was mentioned by someone else). Carlos Betran’s current contract has that clause, which is why the Mets are most likely going to trade him before July 31st because if he walks at the end of the year they get nothing (although given how he is doing this year, there is a good possibility the Mets would not want to take a chance with him accepting arbitration).

        Theo did very well on the draft picks with Billy Wagner, even though I thought there was an agreement that they would not offer arbitration when he was traded there.

      • bigleagues - Jul 16, 2011 at 1:40 AM

        misterbill99:

        That Beltran clause is a rare item. And while Boras negotiated that clause for Beltran, I cannot see why the Brewers would forfeit Type A compensatory picks in this scenario. Very few teams who are going to sign a Type A Free Agent – especially a Closer of K-Rod’s resume and age (still only 29) – are going to balk at sacrificing a 1st round pick. The same can’t be said for a 35-year old Outfielder with a long list of injuries. Boras more than earned his commission for factoring that Beltran clause in.

        Once the Brewers obtained K-Rod, they had most of the leverage. They already had a Closer who was getting the job done. Personally I think this is a potentially hazardous move for the Brewer’s in terms of damaging Axford’s confidence.

        Boras didn’t want K-Rod to qualify for that vested option. The sooner K Rod can hit free agency the longer and bigger the deal Boras can find for him.

        But the Brewer’s weren’t going to allow K-Rod to qualify for that vested option, which meant that K-Rod couldn’t go out and put up the big numbers that will help him earn more dollars.

        So to solve the issue, Boras and Melvin negotiated the ‘potential’ buyout. As it turns out, the automatically vesting option has been converted into a mutual option. If the Brewers choose not to pick up the $17.5 mil, they pay K Rod $4 mil.

        Then to get qualify for the compensatory picks, the Brewers will have to offer salary arbitration, which can be a low ball figure within reason, which K-Rod will then reject.

      • jwbiii - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:07 AM

        First, a player has to accept or reject an arbitration long before figures are are exchanged.

        Second, who and when was the last player who was low-balled and went through the arbitration process and the team won and what were the circumstances?

      • bigleagues - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:42 AM

        Yes, but a team must officially be willing to go to arbitration in order to qualify for compensatory picks if the player chooses to reject arbitration, becomes an unrestricted FA, and signs elsewhere.

        The risk is that the player accepts arbitration and then you will be stuck with him for at least 1 more year at whatever number the arbitrator decides.

        Milwaukee, the smallest market in MLB has become one of the best operated franchises in the game. I can’t imagine them forfeiting their chance at compensatory picks in this scenario.

      • jwbiii - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:50 AM

        “Milwaukee, the smallest market in MLB has become one of the best operated franchises in the game. I can’t imagine them forfeiting their chance at compensatory picks in this scenario.”

        Agree with the first part.

        Can you imagine them paying $13M-$14M for a set up guy?

      • bigleagues - Jul 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

        jwbii,

        Of course I can’t see them paying $13-$14mil for someone to setup. And I doubt that was ever a real risk.

        Can you imagine the smallest market team in MLB sacrificing 2 First Round draft picks? I can’t and you still have provided a reasonable explanation why they would in this K-Rod scenario.

  6. misterbill99 - Jul 15, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Valid point. But I’d be surprised if he can’t get K-Rod as good a multi-year deal as he can get for one year from arbitration.

    • jwbiii - Jul 15, 2011 at 11:27 PM

      If you think they can get a Rafael Soriano (3/$36M) type deal with a compensatory draft pick*, then we have no argument.

      *Who knows what will happen with compensatory draft picks. If they leave completely, then the draft will be decoupled from the CBA and then MLB will have full control over the draft rules (international, hard slotting). I’m not sure that this would be good for the game.

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