By Jason Shetler
On Tuesday, the Pirates reunited with one of their bench pieces from this past season in Sean Rodriguez. He was acquired last offseason from the Tampa Bay Rays to serve as the Bucs super utility man. Rodriguez really scuffled offensively in 2015, as he posted a 76 OPS+ (100 being league average) with an oWAR of -0.5. He did however play very well defensively at different positions. Most of his time came as a defensive replacement late in games at first base for Pedro Alvarez, which really paid dividends in the Pirates securing close victories.
This offseason, the Pirates infield depth has been thinned down with Aramis Ramirez’s retirement, the trade of Neil Walker and the non-tendering of Pedro Alvarez. Question marks surround Jung-Ho Kang about when he’ll rejoin the Pirates in 2016. Despite the Pirates bringing back Rodriguez, I’m not fully convinced that he will play on a regular basis in Kang’s absence due to the bad offensive numbers this past season. Jordy Mercer struggles against right-handed pitcing, so having Mercer and Rodriguez in the bottom of the lineup regularly would pretty much be a couple of automatic outs. Alen Hanson was mentioned by Neal Huntington as a consideration to make the Pirates Opening Day roster. Personally, I would rather see Hanson receive more regular time over Rodriguez regardless of Super 2 status. The Pirates signed Rodriguez for $2.5 million, which is all in his defensive value, and how he should be utilized whenever the Pirates need a reliable option on defense.