That monetary payment will defray at least some (and perhaps all) of the $5 million that Rodriguez will earn through the remainder of this season. But of course there's more ... If Rodriguez finishes at least 55 games this season, a $17.5-million option for next season will vest. The Mets didn't want that happen, and you can be sure the Brewers don't, either (though the Brewers are on the hook for a $3.5-million buyout).
You can be sure that Rodriguez and his agent -- Scott Boras, naturally -- do want that option to vest. To that end, Boras just tried to warn away potential suitors who might be interested in Rodriguez as a set-up man rather than as a closer ... a group that quite likely does include the Brewers, who have a closer (John Axford) with 23 saves and a 2.83 ERA.
As it happens, Francisco Rodriguez also has 23 saves and his 3.16 ERA doesn't leave much room between them. But Axford's got more strikeouts, and has allowed (slightly) fewer home runs. Are the Brewers going to demote Axford in favor of Rodriguez's experience, just to keep Rodriguez happy and assure themselves of committing $17.5 million in 2012 they can't really afford?
I don't think so. Rodriguez might pick up a save here and there, but he's not going to finish another 20 games unless Axford gets hurt. He and his agent won't like it. But they're both smart enough to know that if Rodriguez is a good (and effective) soldier down the stretch, there will be a nice contract waiting for him this winter.
Meanwhile, the Mets need a new closer, and the top candidate is Bobby Parnell, who's actually pitched better than Rodriguez this season. If Parnell's not ready, veteran Jason Isringhausen, with 293 career saves, might pitch some ninth innings.