Utility infielder Sean Rodriguez has signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
ESPN senior writer Jerry Crasnick reported Tuesday that the Pirates have signed the free agent utility infielder to a one-year deal worth 2.5 million dollars with 500,000 dollars in incentives. The versatile Rodriguez hit for an average of .246 with four home runs and 17 RBI in 139 games with the Buccos.
Rodriguez played multiple positions for the Pirates last season and also saw time in the outfield. The deal is pending a physical, as reported by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Most of Rodriguez’s playing time came from splitting time with former Pirate Pedro Alvarez at first base. He started in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game, but was pulled in the second inning when Alvarez was called in to pinch hit and provide some pop to the lineup. Many fans will remember this moment from the Pirates’ NL Wild Card loss to the Chicago Cubs.
While with the Pirates, Rodriguez displayed good defense with a .997 fielding percentage at first base committing just one error in his 102 games played. He made a total of three errors during the 2015 season, with the other two committed while playing short stop.
The Miami native provides manager Clint Hurdle with some infield depth which he can use in case of injury or if Jung Ho Kang is not ready for opening day. With the opening day infield set, look for Rodriguez to be used primarily as a bench player to provide depth and give days off to players such as Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison.
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This move does however raise questions about the Pirates’ upcoming season. Are they going to settle with Sean Rodriguez as Michael Morse‘s partner at first base or will they bring in a full-time first baseman such as Chris Carter or Mitch Moreland?
If the Pirates do not go out and sign another player to either platoon with Morse at first base or replace him entirely, this seems rather frivolous.
Rodriguez is a nice guy to have on your bench and come into the game every now and then, but he has not proven himself as a player who will be able to have sustained success over the course of a full season. He has never played a full season as a starter, and the Pirates should not plan to use him as an alternate with Michael Morse.
The Pirates would be better served by going out on the open market and signing a more permanent solution. Finding either a platoon partner for Morse such as former Pirates Garrett Jones, Justin Morneau or an everyday first baseman would likely tailor this group towards success at the corner.
The motive behind this move should be strictly for infield and outfield depth purposes. Whether its through free agency or a trade, the Pirates need to address the one glaring issue in the infield—first base.