Mets convert Francisco Rodriguez deal
HOUSTON -- The New York Mets placed Francisco Rodriguez on the disqualified list and do not intend to pay him until he is physically able to perform, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon announced Tuesday.
Rodriguez underwent surgery Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. Wilpon said Rodriguez acknowledged to the team's trainers that he injured the thumb in the altercation with his girlfriend's father last Wednesday at Citi Field.
"There's strong evidence and there's witnesses and he told our trainer that's when it happened," Wilpon said on a conference call with general counsel David Cohen.
Wilpon and Cohen said the Mets informed Rodriguez's agent and the Major League Baseball Players Association but did not get their approval before officially taking the punitive action.
Players' association executive director Michael Weiner told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that the union expected to file a grievance Wednesday.
"The Mets' actions are without basis," Weiner said in a statement. "I expect the union will file a grievance promptly."
Because a player's compensation is at stake an expedited hearing generally occurs, so the issue could be before an arbitrator within two to three months.
Rodriguez's lawyer, Jay Reisinger, declined comment on the Mets' decision.
A high-ranking baseball official told ESPN's Pedro Gomez on Tuesday that the Mets' decision to put him on the disqualified list will be "next to impossible" to enforce because he already has been disciplined once with a two-day suspension.
By going on the disqualified list, Rodriguez will lose $3,016,393 of his $11.5 million salary this year. Added to the $125,683 he lost when the Mets put him on the restricted list for two days last week, the altercation could cost him $3,142,076.
The Mets also converted Rodriguez's contract to a nonguaranteed deal. Players with nonguaranteed deals essentially can be cut at points during spring training, with the club only responsible for 30 or 45 days' pay, depending on the timing of the dismissal.
If the Mets cut Rodriguez early enough in spring training, they would owe him only $1,885,246 rather than his $11.5 million salary next year. They still likely would owe the $3.5 million buyout attached to the $17.5 million club option for 2012 that's included in his deal.
Wilpon expected Rodriguez would be ready to return to action for spring training, but said the decision would be about more than just on-field results.
"He has to get himself healthy and part of that has to do with anger management to deal with any issues he has right now," Wilpon said.
A player can remain on the disqualified list indefinitely.
"There's no specific time limit," Cohen said. "A player can apply for reinstatement, otherwise he's reinstated at the time that the club believes that he is ready to perform the services under his contract."
Wilpon added that the Mets reserve the right to void Rodriguez's contract at a future date, although he did not specifically tie that to the result of Rodriguez's criminal proceedings. The closer faces third-degree assault and second-degree harassment charges as a result of last Wednesday's incident.
"We're going to reserve our rights," Wilpon said about voiding the contract. "It's not something we have to determine now. It's not something we have to make a decision on now."
After last week's incident, the Mets initially suspended Rodriguez for two days without pay. Wilpon indicated the revised, harsher punishment is the result of the thumb injury coming to light four days after the original incident, and after the closer had returned to game action. Wilpon said no team personnel was aware of Rodriguez's thumb injury until the pitcher returned to game action the previous day.
"There was more evidence now and more information that we didn't have before that allowed us to make this second determination on punishment and what to do," Wilpon said.
Wilpon added that the original two-day punishment "was something that was negotiated between Major League Baseball, ourselves and the players' association."
Said Wilpon: "We did ask for more."
Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Rodriguez could be welcomed back in 2011.
"First of all, when he gets healthy, right now we do plan on bringing him back next year," Minaya said. "Today we want him back. That being said, let's see how this process goes."
Doctors have told the team that if Rodriguez performs his rehabilitation, he'll be ready for spring training next year.
When Rodriguez returned from his suspension, he apologized to teammates and fans, then gave up a leadoff double but didn't allow a run in a 4-0 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Monday that Rodriguez didn't indicate he was injured before pitching in Saturday's game. Manuel said he first learned of the injury on Sunday.
Rodriguez is accused of grabbing 53-year-old Carlos Pena, hauling him into a tunnel near the family lounge beneath Citi Field and hitting him in the face. Pena was taken to a hospital with a scrape and swelling above his eyebrow.
"I just hope that he takes this time off to make things right with his family, get that stuff situated," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "When he's ready to come back physically, we'll welcome him back. He's got our support in here and hopefully he gets that stuff straight away from the field."
Hisanori Takahashi got his first career save while filling in for Rodriguez in a 3-1 win over the Astros on Monday night.
Right-hander Ryota Igarashi was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo before Tuesday's game to take Rodriguez's roster spot.
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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