By Jason Shetler
In September of 2015, Jung-Ho Kang sustained a season ending injury, in which he tore his meniscus and fractured his tibia. With the uncertainty of Kang’s status heading into the 2016 season, who was going to take over as the Pirates third baseman for the time being?
That offseason, the Pirates acquired Jason Rogers from the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Keon Broxton and pitcher Trey Supak. During the 2015 season, Rogers had an .808 OPS and a 121 OPS+ with the Brewers, so he appeared to be the favorite to replace Kang as a short term solution.
Midway through Spring Training last year, David Freese signed a one-year deal with the Pirates to be their third baseman. Freese not only came in with a proven track record, but it didn’t cost the Bucs a draft pick, since the Los Angeles Angels declined to make him a qualifying offer. Rogers was then in a battle for a spot on the bench, but lost out to Cole Figueroa. He spent most of last season playing at AAA Indianapolis, and his time with the Pirates was brief, receiving just 33 plate appearances.
Rogers wasn’t really in the conversation for a bench spot in Spring Training this year, which was certainly odd. He went back to Indianapolis, where he split his games between first base and DH. There was a report that Rogers had been in negotiations with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League. On Thursday, Brian Peloza, who covers the Indianapolis Indians for Pirates Prospects, mentioned that the signing was made official.
The Rogers trade overall really didn’t make a whole lot of sense. First off, if the Pirates really wanted David Freese, then they should’ve tried to sign him during the offseason and not traded for Rogers in the first place. Second, Keon Broxton had the tools to become a quality fourth outfielder for the Pirates, but instead, has played a integral part as a regular in the Brewers lineup, with 13 home runs and an OPS of .810. Not to mention Trey Supak is becoming a superb strikeout pitcher, posting an 11.0 K/9 with two of the Brewers A ball affiliates this season. And third, the fact that Rogers wasn’t considered much of candidate for a bench spot this Spring showed that the Pirates had essentially given up on him. While this trade is by no means Neal Huntington’s worst as GM, it’s one that he certainly would like to have back.