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Pirates reportedly re-sign Sean Rodriguez

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Crasnick is tweeting that the Pirates have re-signed utility player Sean Rodriguez.  Rob Biertempfel is adding that Rodriguez will get $2.5M plus incentives, which seems wildly excessive given the season he had in 2015.

Rodriguez spent 2015 with the Pirates, batting 246/281/362, good for a 76 OPS+.  Although he'd previously been primarily a middle infielder, Clint Hurdle apparently decided from the start that Rodriguez was a corner player.  With the Pirates, he played 362 innings at first and 158 in the outfield corners, but only 37 at second or short.  As a corner player, he was badly miscast due to his poor hitting.  He did, however, help the team as a defensive replacement for the inept Pedro Alvarez, often entering games as early as the sixth inning.  Most defensive metrics show Rodriguez to be a good glove at first, second and third, although not in the outfield.

Conceivably, Rodriguez could bounce back to something closer to his 2013-14 offensive level, when he posted a 97 OPS+ both years.  There's not a lot of reason to think that'll happen, though.  Rodriguez' always-weak plate discipline collapsed over the course of 2014-15, as he began swinging at significantly more pitches in and out of the strike zone, resulting in a minuscule five walks in all of 2015.  His batted ball profile also changed in 2015, as many of the fly balls he used to hit turned into grounders and infield popups.  WIth the Pirates' first base situation still unsettled, it's hard to say how much of a role Rodriguez will play at that position, but he's likely to see time as a backup in the outfield corners, which will hurt the team offensively and defensively.