THURSDAY, 10:57am: The Pirates confirmed the signing via press release.
TUESDAY, 1:07pm: The Pirates have reached a deal to bring back free agent infielder/outfielder Sean Rodriguez, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). He’ll earn $2.5MM and can earn up to $500K in incentives, per Crasnick and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter).
Rodriguez, 30, came to Pittsburgh last winter via trade. He earned $1.9MM via arbitration in 2015, so his new deal represents a slight bump up in earnings.
His primary value lies in his defensive versatility. He’s spent time at every position on the field other than pitcher and catcher. Though Rodriguez has spent a plurality of his innings at second base, he’s also accrued over 400 frames at first, short, third, and left field.
Last year, Rodriguez ended up being utilized most often at first base. He’s obviously not suited for that position from an offensive standpoint, as he slashed just .246/.281/.362 over his 240 plate appearances, but the club needed his glove there as Pedro Alvarez struggled defensively.
It seems likely that Rodriguez will be deployed more frequently elsewhere in the infield in 2016, especially early in the year. With Neil Walker now playing for the Mets and Jung Ho Kang looking to return from a significant injury, he’ll represent an important depth piece for the club. The veteran has shown more at the plate in the past, as he hit just shy of league average over 2013-14 in Tampa Bay, and a return to that level of production would make this deal an easy win for the club.