Rays Rumors

Is Sean Rodriguez A Legitimate Trade Chip for the Rays?

By Robbie Knopf

As the trade deadline approaches–over three hours to go!–Tampa Bay Rays players have been discussed increasingly more on the rumor mill. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports has the latest.

All of those names are interesting…but we have discussed David Price about a million times in sorting through Rays trade rumors, and Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce have been mentioned a good amount as well, including a few minutes ago. The name we haven’t heard as much among those players is Sean Rodriguez. Let’s look at him as a trade candidate and see what the chances are that he will be dealt.

Rodriguez, 29, has delivered one of the most bizarre years in the history of the Rays this season. He is hitting just .234 with a .285 on-base percentage, but somehow he has slammed 10 home runs, second on the team to Evan Longoria. He is even hitting right-handed pitching this year after struggling against them in the past. Are we looking at a player that has really broken through? Absolutely not. Rodriguez has 47 strikeouts against just 4 walks on the season, and he’s at an insane 24-0 against right-handed pitching. Rodriguez’s plate discipline is a severe weakness, and he will fall back to earth. Even when he does, however, there are still various things to like about him.

This season, Rodriguez has seen time at six different positions, every one but centerfield, pitcher, and catcher. He does have 11 games in center in the past, though, and he is actually the Rays’ emergency catcher, so he can literally play anywhere but pitcher. Unfortunately for him, that skill is wasted on the Rays, not because they don’t value it, but because Ben Zobrist is the player they have moving around. Rodriguez is best defensively at second base, left field, and first base, but he is a good third baseman and a decent shortstop. Rodriguez has played those latter two positions just 10 times combined the last two years because of the construction of the Rays’ roster, but on another team, he could play both of them much more often. When we combine that fact with his hitting, especially against left-handed pitching, Rodriguez could be an extremely valuable bench player for quite a few times other teams in baseball. It is clear that there would be interest if Rodriguez was made available–but that doesn’t mean that the Rays would get something of value in return for him.

Sean Rodriguez has one more year under team control after making $1.48 million this year, and the Rays can easily fit him into their plans for 2015. It would take more than a marginal prospect for him to be dealt. Would a team be willing to deal a low minors player with upside in exchange for him? It is hard to see the answer to that being yes. The Arizona Diamondbacks traded Ryan Roberts to the Rays for middling prospect Tyler Bortnick, and that was with Roberts having a better track record as a regular than Rodriguez. It is hard to see the Rays possibly getting anything more. With that in mind, they will hold onto Sean Rodriguez and see just how long his power surge can last.