The offseason feels like it just started not that long ago but the stove is already hot. We've seen a couple minor trades take place already. More today as Joaquin Benoit was shipped to the Mariners for a pair of minor leaguers. Peter Gammons suggests the possibility that Aroldis Chapman could be moved before the weekend is over. There are multiple reports that top relief free agent Darren O'Day already has offers in hand.
It's no surprise that the relief market is developing this quickly. After Darren O'Day the pickings are slim. Joakim Soria, Ryan Madson, and Tyler Clippard are the next tier of free agents. Those guys don't really come close to the level that O'Day is at. So teams in the market for late inning relief are going to be fighting over these guys.
There are other options available in trade. As I mentioned above the Reds are now open to moving Aroldis Chapman. He's going to cost a fair amount but he's definitely worth it. He's arguably the best reliever that's going to be available. Craig Kimbrel is probably also available. He might be harder to move has he is owed a lot of money yet--at least $25 million over the next two years.
Both those guys are going to take a lot to get but both are among the best in baseball. Francisco Rodriguez isn't in the same class. But he's going to be a lot cheaper both financially and with regards to acquisition cost. So the Brewers don't have to worry too much about Chapman and Kimbrel eating into their trade market.
With the paucity of relievers available in free agency potentially drying up quickly and the chance that one of the prime relief targets could move soon the Brewers are in an enviable position. They can just wait out the market until the best options are gone. Then they can approach teams with their strong alternative to the Ryan Madsons and Antonio Bastardos that remain on the free agent market.
Doing so could help the Brewers leverage significantly. Francisco Rodriguez is signed to one more guaranteed year at $7.5 M--$2 M deferred--with a team option for $6 M with a $2 M buyout. To put it another way it's $9.5 M guaranteed. That seems pricey but the Brewers can eat some of it. In addition it doesn't look as bad when the other options are Ryan Madson or Antonio Bastardo at 3/15.
The Brewers can also undercut the Padres--for example--if Kimbrel is left on the market. He struggled--compared to his previous work--last year and is going to be expensive. The Brewers can dangle K-Rod--and his downright reasonable contract by comparison--in front of anyone still going after a Kimbrel--or Chapman if he's still out there.
By waiting out the relief market the Brewers could find themselves with a proverbial oasis in a relief market desert populated a number of thirsty buyers. It might be a situation where a club decides to overlook the downsides to a player with the personal baggage K-Rod brings. His high quality production out of the bullpen in recent seasons should only help there too. The only real downside here is that it might take a couple of months before the Brewers move him.