GM: K-Rod trade not start of fire sale

Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets

Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets smiles after he scored in the ninth inning of their game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. (July 8, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

So who's next?

That was the obvious question for Sandy Alderson after he completed the Francisco Rodriguez trade with the Brewers during the ninth inning of Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

Carlos Beltran? Jose Reyes? David Wright?

Alderson denied Wednesday that dealing K-Rod is the start of a fire sale for the Mets, who at 46-45 are holding on in the wild-card race by their fingernails. But the GM did say trade talk is heating up with the non-waivers deadline looming July 31, and the temptation to move Beltran could be tough to resist.

"We have had conversations with other clubs about a number of our players," Alderson said. "Carlos' situation is well known to all teams, and not surprisingly, there's been a lot of interest expressed. We have not pursued that interest to any great length at this point."

That's sure to change, however, with two World Series contenders, the Giants and Red Sox, already linked to the six-time All-Star. Brian Wilson, the Giants' closer, even lobbied for Beltran as he read the NL lineup before Tuesday's game.

Even at this time of year, coveting a player to that degree is a bit extreme, and Alderson -- if the Mets' 7½-game deficit grows quickly -- could find a very competitive market for Beltran. He is due roughly $8.1 million for the rest of this season, and his contract stipulates he cannot be offered arbitration, so there is no draft compensation if he leaves via free agency.

In other words, the Mets have little to gain by keeping Beltran, unless they can keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

"I'd love to see Carlos with us as we continue this run," Alderson said. "But at some point, I'm sure that the interest already expressed by those clubs will be reaffirmed and we'll have some conversations.

"I do want to make it clear that the Rodriguez trade should not signal anything to anyone about Beltran. I think far more important in that situation will be how we play over the next week, two weeks, three weeks."

Rodriguez was not only expendable, but the GM apparently made it one of his top priorities to trade him, specifically to get out from under that $17.5-million vesting option for 2012. How important was it to dump K-Rod? The Mets paid the Brewers roughly $5 million of the $8.4 million he is owed this season (counting a $3.5-million buyout) and asked for only two players to be named in return.

"I think clearly we now can look forward in 2012 to considerably more payroll flexibility and have a little more latitude in how we allocate our payroll," Alderson said.

Subtracting Rodriguez also gives Alderson an extended look at Bobby Parnell as the closer, with the idea he could keep the role next season. Jason Isringhausen also is likely to get opportunities. As those two share the job, Pedro Beato can be tested in the set-up role, and the Mets are expected to call up Ryota Igarashi to take K-Rod's roster spot.

If, or when, Beltran is traded, he probably would be the last significant Met moved. Alderson said last week it's "very unlikely" Reyes will be dealt this season, and Wright, on the disabled list since May 16, still has to prove there's no long-term damage from the stress fracture in his lower back. Alderson said Wright would begin playing rehab games Friday, with the goal of rejoining the Mets July 22.

In discussing K-Rod's trade, Alderson was asked point blank if the savings from that deal would give him a better chance of re-signing Reyes this offseason. It was the only question Wednesday that the GM wasn't prepared to answer yet.

"Everybody seems to have their own opinion about the answer to that question," Alderson said. "We'll leave it there."

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