Signing Brian Fuentes and Saving Money

Yesterday, Jon Heyman of said the Mets were among 11 teams interested in LHP Brian Fuentes.

In a post to the Real Dirty Mets Blog, Eric writes:

“…the Mets will have to spend $1 – $2 million on a left handed relief pitcher so take that cash out.  Thus Fuentes is costing you an extra $8 million.  What’s Francisco Rodriguez’s dangerous option?  $17.5 million ($3.5 million buyout).  So based on my quick math the Mets could actually save around $9.5 million ($6 million after the buyout that was gone anyway).”

If Rodriguez finishes 55 games in 2011 and a combined 100 games between 2010-2011, his $17.5 million option for 2012 will automatically vest. Despite season ending surgery revolving around an altercation at Citi Field, Rodriguez finished 46 games for the Mets in 2010 while saving 25 games and pitching to a 2.20 ERA.

To put that option in perspective, the Yankees recently resigned Mariano Rivera to a two year, $30 million deal, and he just completed a three year, $45 million contract.

K-Rod’s option is a huge albatross hanging over the Mets heads for the 2012 season, as he is still a productive closer, and there is no indication he will fall off next season, despite the injury to his thumb. If the Mets do not make an acquisition which would limit K-Rod’s ability to finish games next season, I would full expect that 2012 option to kick in, which like many of the contracts the Mets have on the books for 2011, will increase the mets payroll substantially for 2012 without acquiring anyone.

Fuentes would be an intriguing acquisition as he would, at the very least, serve as a suitable replacement for Pedro Feliciano, who signed with the Yankees earlier this month for two years and about $8 million. I could certainly see Fuentes eventually winding up with a similar deal.

Having said that, I would think the Mets would only get seriously interested in Fuentes if that price comes down.

In 48 relief appearances for the Angels and Twins in 2010, Fuentes went 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA with 24 saves and 35 games finished. He signed a two year contract with the Angels in December, 2008 which paid him $17.5 million.