By Jared Lankes
In a report that confirmed what we already figured, Chris Cotillo reported that the Pirates are in on Sean Rodriguez. Not a shocking move considering he’s versatile and handled the bat extremely well in 2016. However, many people think that Sean Rodriguez will earn a starting role at a position, similar to what the Pirates did with Josh Harrison. I imagine any other suitor for Rodriguez could give him an opportunity to start everyday. As of now, the Pirates lineup is jammed, but what if I told you that the Pirates signing Rodriguez could be a prelude to bigger moves later on? Well, you will be forced to stay here to find out the answer, so you might as well keep going now that you are this far.
When I see a Sean Rodriguez signing as it pertains to an everyday role for the Pirates, I see two positions possible. These positions being second base and right field. I am going to start by looking at second base.
As I’ve done a ton of, I have looked at potential second base upgrades for Harrison. I am firmly in the camp that thinks an upgrade at this position needs to be addressed. But maybe the upgrade is in front of us without us knowing it. Sean Rodriguez could very well present an upgrade if he rides momentum from 2016 into next season, which is no guarantee. Also, Rodriguez is older and seemingly not a player in his prime. And replacing an expensive utility player (Harrison) by overpaying for another (Rodriguez) to try to be a good everyday player is a little ludicrous. Though it is certainly possible this happens, especially if it’s a shorter 2-3 year pact with Rodriguez that is cheaper than what Harrison is getting and would give them a chance to get Harrison off the books if they so choose.
The others place he could fit is right field, but some tweaks would need to be made. Now, the Pirates are already highly considering moving Gregory Polanco to left, Starling Marte to center and Andrew McCutchen to right. These moves can be done with or without McCutchen. If the Pirates sign Rodriguez and deal McCutchen in a massive trade, Rodriguez could play right field until Austin Meadows is ready. Rodriguez would at least be a stable bat to fit in there until Meadows arrives. However, I think this move only works on another one-year deal for Rodriguez because he would have a very reduced role once Meadows is up. This idea would be very creative and take much more thinking and careful planning to work than the idea of him replacing Harrison.
I don’t see Rodriguez coming to the Pirates. I would be shocked if he did. However, if he does, then I seriously do think it’d be a prelude move for something more major to happen later in the offseason. Watch out if Rodriguez comes back to the Pirates because it could pave the Pirates offseason path.