NEW YORK -- The assumption all along on Francisco Rodriguez has been that the $17.5 million vesting option in his contract would be the Mets' biggest obstacle in trying to trade him.
One rival scout who has watched K-Rod recently has bigger concerns.
"I wouldn't take him," the scout said. "He's not reliable. He's throwing 88 [mph]. He's what Roberto Hernandez was at the end of his career."
The raw numbers say Rodriguez has been nothing like Hernandez, who had a 6.64 ERA in 2007, his final big-league season. K-Rod's ERA this year with the Mets is 1.73, and he has converted 15 of 16 save opportunities.
But Rodriguez also has a career-high WHIP of 1.462, and according to fangraphs.com, his average fastball is a career-low 90.4 mph. The scout said he was totally unimpressed by Rodriguez's secondary pitches, as well.
And then there's the contract.
Rodriguez already has 20 games finished, which means he needs 35 more to trigger the huge 2012 option. While he has suggested he might waive the option if a team is willing to negotiate a (presumably big-money) extension, it's hard to see how that would be relevant.
There have also been suggestions that Rodriguez could be traded to a team that would use him as a set-up man, thus avoiding the option. But at $11.5 million, his contract wouldn't fit into many (or maybe any) team's budget if he's not a closer.