Posted on November 25, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Atlanta Braves have had a busy offseason thus far, adding veteran pitchers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to their rotation to help them compete in 2017 while also forming a bridge to their younger prospects. On Thursday, the Braves agreed to sign their first position player of the offseason, adding a player capable of playing nearly every position. Several outlets are reporting that the Braves have agreed to terms with utility man Sean Rodriguez, who spent the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates after stints with the Rays and Angels earlier in his career.
The Braves have yet to formally announce the deal, which is pending a physical. Reports indicate that Rodriguez has agreed to a two-year contract worth $11.5 million. The contract will per Rodriguez $5 per season with a $1.5 million signing bonus.
Rodriguez is a career .234 hitter, but he’s coming off the best offensive season of his career. With the Pirates in 2016, Rodriguez hit .270 with 18 home runs, posting an OPS of .859, both career highs.
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Members of the Pirates front office previously expressed a desire to re-sign Rodriguez, but knew that he would have other suitors. “We’d love to have Sean remain in a Pirate uniform,” said Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington earlier this offseason. “Given what he’s done this year, we would fully anticipate that there’s going to be quite a market out there for him.” The Braves proved Huntington right by giving Rodriguez a significant contract for a utility player.
Defensively, Rodriguez has more than 2,000 major league innings at second base and has logged more than 1,000 innings at shortstop. He also has more than 600 innings at both corner infield positions. Rodriguez doesn’t have as much experience in the outfield, but he has seen plenty of action at all three outfield spots throughout his career.
That versatility should make Rodriguez a useful asset to the Braves at a number of positions. He figures to be the best backup option Atlanta has at all four infield positions. Rodriguez may also be capable of pushing for regular playing time at second base. Jace Peterson showed some progression offensively last season, but if Rodriguez can duplicate his numbers from 2016, he may be Atlanta’s best option next season, at least until prospect Ozzie Albies is ready for the big leagues, which could be during the second half to the 2017 season.
On the surface, the signing of Rodriguez doesn’t move the meter much for the Braves next season. However, he’s a competent defensive player who can play nearly every position on the diamond, making him a valuable bench player who should be worth close to the $5 million per season the Braves will pay him the next two years. Whether he can replicate his offensive production from 2016 is far from a guarantee, but he has always provided a fair amount of power for a part-time player, which adds to his value.
Similar to the signings of Dickey and Colon, the acquisition of Rodriguez is not a major move, but it does make the Braves marginally better. It is also a move aimed at becoming competitive in the short term without sacrificing long-term resources. It’s obviously not a major move, but adding Rodriguez will make the Braves better in 2017 and should be a worthwhile signing when all is said and done.