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Brewers trade Francisco Rodriguez to Tigers for infield prospect

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The Brewers and David Stearns have made their first trade of the offseason. The Brewers send their closer to Detroit for a second base prospect.

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The first trade of the offseason and of David Stearns career as Brewers General Manager is in the books.

UPDATE: The trade also appears to include a player to be named later. The two teams will have six months from today to come to an agreement on said player.

The Brewers former closer was making $7.5 million this year with $2 million deferred until 2018. There was also a team option for 2016 worth $6 million with a $2 million buyout. The Tigers will assume his entire salary.

After a few years where it seemed Francisco Rodriquez's lowered velocity was catching up with him in the form of home runs allowed, the closer really seemed to turn a corner in 2015. He dropped his home run rate from a career high 1.85 HR/9 to a much more reasonable 0.91. But that's not the only improvement.

In fact he logged one of the better seasons of his career: 28.7 K%, 5.1 BB%, 0.86 WHIP, 2.21 ERA, 2.91 FIP. That and the fact that his contract is pretty reasonable compared to other high leverage relievers might lead one to believe K-Rod could fetch a better package than he did. But he does carry significant personal baggage.

While he was with the Mets he was arrested for assaulting his fiances father. Then in 2012 he was arrested for domestic abuse. Those charges were later dropped when the victim--his girlfriend--and the only witness--his maid--left the country. It's strange circumstances and it did nothing to dismiss concerns of his off-field persona. Whether you think it's fair or not this is probably why the Brewers were forced to settle for such an underwhelming trade return.

Javier Betancourt is a second baseman. He ranked 13th on the Tigers preseason list at FanGraphs. Baseball Prospectus actually just released their current Top 10 for the Tigers today. He ranks 8th on that list. He's a low ceiling high floor type prospect. He has plus defense at second base--something that is deceptively important to the rebuilding Brewers and their ground ball pitchers. He's also good at making contact but he lacks speed and strength so he's more of a singles machine.

This isn't necessarily bad trade all things considered. It's nice for the Brewers to unload all of K-Rod's contract though that doesn't help them rebuild in and of itself. Javier Betancourt does become the Brewers top second base prospect which is not something that should be dismissed. It's just a little underwhelming when you see what the likes of Craig Kimbrel brought in during an offseason when high leverage relievers are scarce. Of course K-Rod is nowhere near the pitcher Kimbrel is so the return was always going to be lighter.