By Jason Shetler
The Milwaukee Brewers had themselves a dreadful 2015 season going 68-94 while finishing next to last in the NL Central. As bad as the team performed overall, one of their bright spots was Jason Rogers. The former Minor League Player of the Year for the Brewers was quite productive in a first base platoon with Adam Lind a year ago, posting an .808 OPS along with an OPS+ of 120.
During the offseason, the Pirates struck a deal with their division rival, as they acquired Rogers from the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Keon Broxton and pitching prospect Trey Supak. Entering Spring Training, Rogers was looking to claim a spot on the bench. Despite the good offensive numbers last year, he lost out on the final spot to Cole Figueroa, and was optioned to AAA Indianapolis. But did the Pirates make the right decision sending him to the minors to begin 2016? – Here’s my take.
Before Spring Training even got underway, the Pirates had their platoon at first base set with John Jaso and Michael Morse, so unless they were going to trade Morse either in the offseason or during the Spring, Rogers wouldn’t really see any playing time there. Third base appeared to be an option with Jung-Ho Kang recovering, but he’s only played three games there in the big leagues, and had a .935 fielding percentage at the position while in the minors. The David Freese signing was clearly made to have a more respectable defensive third baseman with experience until Kang returns. Two other deciding factors was Figueroa’s defensive versatility, more specifically being Jordy Mercer’s backup shortstop, and the fact that Rogers had an option, which meant it wasn’t a must to place him on the big club. With those circumstances to consider, the Pirates in my opinion made the correct move. Even with Rogers starting out in AAA, he presents a terrific depth option in the event that a player struggles or an injury occurs.