After Sean Rodriguez got designated for assignment, we weren’t sure what the Tampa Bay Rays would receive in return for him. In a vacuum, he had some trade value, but the Rays faced a time crunch and teams could acquire him for nothing if they let him pass through waivers. Would the Rays end up getting nothing for their utility infielder and former starter at shortstop and second base?
We discussed on Saturday how Rodriguez could fit for several teams, something that could be enough for them to get a prospect back for him. As it turns out, there was sufficient interest for the Rays to trade Rodriguez instead of releasing him. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they have acquired Rodriguez from the Rays for a player-to-be-named-later and cash considerations, and we will have to see what exactly the Rays will receive.
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Sean Rodriguez fits for the Pirates as a platoon partner for Pedro Alvarez at first base. Alvarez’s power bat was enough for the Pirates to clear room at first base to make him their starter there, but his weakness against lefties made acquiring a player like Rodriguez a necessity. Rodriguez will also provide the Pirates with depth all over the field as he play all four infield positions and left field.
Rodriguez ended up playing a lot of first base and left field for the Rays, but he is a fine defender at both second and third base and at least passable at shortstop. Rodriguez has to be hoping that the Pirates will showcase him at all the positions he can play in his final year before free agency.
From a payroll perspective, the fact that the Rays not only freed themselves from Rodriguez’s projected $2.0 million salary, but also got money back from Pittsburgh is quite exciting. Obviously more intriguing, though, is the player-to-be-named later that the Rays will receive. There are two possible categories for who that player can be: either a 2014 draftee or a player eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. The odds are in favor of it being the latter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Rays will be receiving a non-prospect.
It is worth noting that players like Oscar Hernandez and Armando Araiza are Rule 5-eligible for the Rays, and while they won’t be selected because they are far from the major leagues, both have upside as catching prospects. There is a chance that the Rays could receive such a player from the Pirates who would be a good haul for Rodriguez.
In addition, the last time we saw the Rays in a situation like this was the Ryan Hanigan trade, when they were the ones giving the Arizona Diamondbacks a player-to-be-named later. They ended up giving away Todd Glaesmann, certainly not a top prospect, but a player with some potential. It remains to be seen what kind of prospect the Rays get for Rodriguez, and while the Pirates’ system certainly won’t be taking a major hit, there is a decent chance that we will end up pleasantly surprised with the player the Rays will receive.
Sean Rodriguez had only one year left under team control as a replaceable player on the Rays, and they even put themselves in a tough position when they designated him for assignment. Nevertheless, Matt Silverman found him a way to turn him into payroll relief and a prospect of some kind, and that should make this a solid deal for the Rays. While we will have to wait before we give this trade even an initial trade, it looks like Silverman’s first offseason as Rays President of Baseball Operations is continuing to go well.