Pittsburgh Pirates: Future Implications of Acquiring Sean Rodriguez


Editorial: Over this past weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to bring back super utility man Sean Rodriguez.  This is a move that helps this year, but what does it suggest going forward?

After a relatively quiet trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to upgrade their bench via an August waiver trade.  The Bucs traded away former supplemental first round pick Connor Joe for Sean Rodriguez.  Rodriguez flourished as a Pittsburgh Pirates utility player in 2016.  He turned down a one-year contract to take a two-year deal with Atlanta.  On top of that, Atlanta had an opening at second base that they were planning on filling with Rodriguez.  He not only got a better contract, but also was going to get a chance to play every day.

Unfortunately, things for Rodriguez did not go as planned.  Over the off-season, he and his family were involved in a severe car accident.  Luckily, everyone was relatively okay, however, Rodriguez suffered a significant rotator cuff injury that he underwent surgery to repair.  Due to this, Atlanta made a trade for Brandon Phillips as Rodriguez was expected to miss most of 2017.  Rodriguez returned after the all-star break and struggled in 15 games with Atlanta, hitting for an average under .200. Meanwhile, Atlanta was preparing to promote their top prospect in Ozzie Albies, who they like as their future second baseman.  Rodriguez and his remaining contract became expendable.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, whose bench lacked a quality utility infielder, decided to make the move for the former fan favorite. The Bucs took the utility infielder and his remaining contract.  He is owed his remaining money for this season, as well as another $5.75 million for next season. So beyond acquiring a player that will help the team this season, what does this move mean for 2018?  There are three scenarios that could play out this offseason.

  1. The Pittsburgh Pirates look to Relace Jung-Ho Kang

By now most baseball fans know the story of Jung-Ho Kang.  He has multiple charges for driving under the influence.  The last time was this off-season when he not only wrecked his vehicle, but fled the scene and later lied about who was driving the car.  Due to this, Kang faced a court hearing in South Korea. In the end, Kang was sentenced to two years of jail time, but had the sentencing suspended as long as he kept his hand clean over those two years.

After that, any optimism about Kang returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates ball club was immediately put down.  Customs denied Kang’s visa application due to his pending criminal charges.  Since then, there has not been much progress made in terms of having Kang return to the club in the future.  So the Sean Rodriguez move could suggest that the Pirates do not plan on Kang returning to the ball club next year.  This move gives them more infield depth, a position that has lacked this year.  David Freese has shown that he no longer can handle playing every day.  Acquiring Sean gives the team the ability to give Freese more days off next season.

     2. A Trade Could be on the Horizon

Since last off-season, rumors have swirled that the Pittsburgh Pirates were dangling current second baseman Josh Harrison in trade talks.  The rumors surfaced again this past July as the trade deadline approached.  Here we are after the deadline with the team decided to hold on to the 2017 all-star.  Still, this could allow the Bucs to once again negotiate deals regarding Harrison this offseason.

This past year, the Pittsburgh Pirates did not have a suitable replacement for Harrison. Now the Bucs not only had Sean Rodriguez, but also have top infield prospect Kevin Newman knocking at the door in Triple-A.  If a deal is made for Harrison, or even possibly Freese, this offseason, Rodriguez could be used as the stop gap at second base until Newman is ready to make his major league debut.  One key detail, of course, would be if the Bucs would get the right deal to trade away their current second baseman who is under team control for two more seasons.

    3. It Could Mean Literally Nothing

The Pittsburgh Pirates very well could have made a move to not only improve the 2017 team, but also the 2018 team.  Sean Rod is considered one of the best bench players in baseball.  He can play pretty much any infield position and corner outfield.  When the Bucs were making their playoff runs for 2013-2015 they always had a strong bench.  Sean helps improve the team’s bench for now and the future.

Next: 2016 Draft: Max Kranick

The Pittsburgh Pirates made an addition to the team by acquiring a notable player who has had success as a Pirate in the past.  Sean Rod may not be the answer to all the team’s questions, but he is a player that helps the ball club.  There are multiple reasons the Bucs could have acquired the super utility player.  We may never be told the 100 percent reason why they dealt for him.  However, the Pittsburgh Pirates do not make moves just to make moves.  Hopefully, the reasoning is that the Pirates are trying to improve the ball club going forward.