Francisco Rodriguez, The Mets, And Their 41-Man Roster

It seems that the Mets are still in play for starting pitcher Chris Young and that he is very close to making a decision as posted yesterday by my colleague Brandon Butler. Chris Young would be a nice addition for the Mets and if we do get him he instantly becomes the biggest acquisition of the Mets offseason and probably the first player that fans didn’t have to look up on google to figure out who he was.

That said, it brings up an interesting question. Who do the Mets cut from the 40-man roster to make room for him? As you may remember, the Mets were forced to designate Ryota Igarashi last week after they signed reliever Taylor Buchholz. It doesn’t look like anyone claimed him yet and they probably won’t given the fact he has $1.7 million dollars coming to him after an atrocious season in 2010.

However, cutting someone else from the 40-man roster won’t be as easy this time around. And making matters even worse is something that has flown under the radar for most of the offseason:

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez is not currently on the 40-man roster because he ended the season on the Disqualified List.

It’s a technicality that essentially allows the Mets to maintain a 41-man roster at least until the end of Spring Training when another player will have to be removed to make room for K-Rod.

Last week in an interview with Adam Rubin, Sandy Alderson said that he is still looking to add another starting pitcher, a left handed reliever, and a 4th or 5th outfielder. Most likely, they will probably be able to fill the reliever and outfielder spots by signing a couple of players to a minor league deal and inviting them to spring training. However, if the Mets do sign Chris Young, you can certainly bet it will be a major league deal and that another player will have to designated, cut or traded.

Currently, you add catcher Mike Nickeas to the safe list as he will have to start the season as Josh Thole’s backup until Ronny Paulino finishes out the rest of his suspension for PEDs.

That leaves the Mets with several interesting options, the obvious being cutting ties with either Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo, but the Mets seem adamant about having them compete in spring training before deciding on either of their fates.

Another option would be giving back one of their two Rule 5 Draft selections, Bad Emaus and Pedro Beato, but again, the Mets seem inclined to having them both compete in spring training.

The only other alternative would be to designate a player for assignment and hoping he goes unclaimed. That was easier said than done with Ryota Igarashi, but surely there will be more than a few teams willing to take a chance on pitchers Tobi Stoner or Josh Stinson, or position players Jason Pridie or Zach Lutz, especially at a cost of next to nothing.

More problems will arise if Taylor Tankersley and Boof Bonser make the team as expected, and of course any other players they sign to a minor league contract – like the left handed reliever or those 4th and 5th outfielders Sandy Alderson talked about.

For now, the Mets can enjoy the luxury of having a 41-man roster, but in a few weeks some very difficult decisions will have to be made.