Everybody’s favorite water-cooler-punching utilityman will be back with the Pirates in 2016; they re-signed Sean Rodriguez for one year, $2.5 million (plus incentives).
This certainly isn’t super-exciting news, but I don’t mind it, I guess. With Josh Harrison now locked in to a position (second base, once Jung Ho Kang returns), Clint Hurdle probably really wants a Mr. Everything on the roster. Hopefully Rodriguez will be filling more of that role rather than being a first baseman more often than anything else. (That shouldn’t be necessary with Pedro’s awful defense out of the picture, although if Josh Bell struggles defensively like many expect, it could happen again.) I’d say it’s acceptable to have a guy like that around, even if he doesn’t hit much. And Rodriguez should hit a little better than he did in 2015 if you look at his career numbers – he had a pretty down season not only by our standards, but also his own historical standards.
That said, it is certainly fair to wonder how the Pirates are imagining their Infield looking. Even if you assume they’ll do something else at first base, they will be left with a hole elsewhere on the infield until Kang is back (now sounding like April, but not necessarily Opening Day). Nobody wants Rodriguez to be a starter, not even temporarily. The other internal option is Alen Hanson, who is a very interesting prospect but has his flaws and zero major league experience. You’d think another major move is unlikely since the Pirates have bigger needs elsewhere, but it may be up to Hanson (or the Pirates’ faith in him) to keep Rodriguez (or another incredibly light-hitting infielder) out of some April starting lineups. Hanson will be important beyond that, too, since the Bucs’ infield depth isn’t what it used to be now that Walker’s gone. If someone gets hurt or struggles, they might have a harder time finding viable options to slide in and hold it together (like Harrison did in 2014 and Kang did in 2015).
Original article: S-Rod returns
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