Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin got a head start on the trade-deadline frenzy Tuesday, acquiring Mets RP Francisco Rodriguez for two players to be named later. The Brewers are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central with less than three weeks to go before the annual non-waiver trade deadline.

Rodriguez had converted on 23 of 26 save chances this year for the Mets, but he joins a staff that has the emerging John Axford in the closer role. Axford is 23 of 25 on save chances this season.

The Brewers also got an undisclosed amount of cash from the Mets to offset some of Rodriguez’ huge salary. K-Rod is making $11.5 million this season and has a $17.5 million option for 2012 that vests if he meets the following three conditions:

  • 55 games finished in 2011, and
  • 100 games finished in 2010-11, and
  • doctors declare Rodriguez healthy after 2011

There is a $3.5 million buyout option if the conditions are not met. So far this season Rodriguez has finished 34 games to go along with 46 GF from 2010 for a total of 80.

Axford, meanwhile is on a one-year deal with the Brewers for $442,000.

Melvin has been aggressive in building the Brewers for a title run in 2011. He landed one of the more coveted pitchers in the offseason when he signed Zack Greinke to a four-year/$38 million deal and also added another quality arm in Shaun Marcum.

(Salary info: Cot’s Baseball Contracts)