Keep Him. Whatever K-Rod makes — presumably somewhere above $12 million, maybe closer to $14 million — would put a significant strain on the Brewers’ payroll and likely blow up any other plans they had this offseason, but at least they would have most of their bullpen returning. With John Axford making near the league minimum, the Brewers would basically be paying around $14 million to cover the 8th and 9th innings. That’s still not exactly the best way for a small-market team to allocate its resources, but at least the Brewers could feel good about their chances after 7 innings most nights. You know, assuming he doesn’t immediately raise a stink about not closing.
Cut Him. Arbitration salaries are non-guaranteed. The Brewers could release him during spring training and be on the hook for as little as 1/6th the salary. The problem here is that they would effectively be flushing $2 million or so down the drain — money that could be used to fill bench spots, spots in the bullpen, or even a bargain-bin shortstop. The Brewers would end up with nothing for the All-Star closer months after getting themselves into this mess by trying to get draft pick compensation. Not exactly an attractive option, but paying $2 million would may be preferable to paying $14 million. Also, the release has to be baseball-related. Unless Rodriguez bombs in Spring Training, that could be a problem.
Trade Him. The Brewers would have to eat a significant portion of his salary to make him an attractive trade target, but teams looking for a one-year fix may find this a more attractive option than trying to negotiate a deal with Scott Boras. The Brewers would also at least get something back for K-Rod, even if it isn’t something special. The quality of the return would depend on how much salary they’re willing to eat, but it may be a way to fill a bench spot or find a hard-thrower with a future in the bullpen.
K-Rod effectively handcuffed the Brewers over the past couple days while they waited for his decision. Now that he’s made the less-popular choice, the Brewers will have to reassess their offseason strategy. It should be interesting, to say the least.