Jason Rogers in Negotiations With a Japanese Team

INDIANAPOLIS – Jason Rogers may soon be leaving the Pirates organization to play in Japan, though, a contract has not yet been officially signed.

A first baseman/designated hitter with Triple-A Indianapolis, Rogers is in negotiations with the Hanshin Tigers of the Central League. Multiple Japanese news outlets have reported Rogers will sign with the club to fill an immediate need.

Rogers was in the Indianapolis lineup for Wednesday’s game, going 4-for-5 with a home run, but the exact date of his departure from the organization, if at all, is unclear.

“We’re in talks, but there’s no full agreement,” Rogers said. “Just keeping my options open. … I guess it comes from the Pirates, just exploring to see what is available. If nothing is going to happen for me getting called up, I’m just keeping options open for next year. Because after this year I’m a free agent and I’m trying to have options open.”

However, when asked if he could potentially sign with Hanshin and immediately leave, Rogers said that was possible. The news reports from Japanese outlets have Rogers signing and immediately joining Hanshin.

“If it comes available and stuff happens, yeah, it could be next week,” Rogers said.

Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett had not heard anything about Rogers signing with a Japanese team and had no comment on the matter.

According to a report from Sanspo, a Japanese newspaper, Hanshin was looking to “acquire a right-handed bat with pop that can also play some first,” which pretty aptly summarizes the scouting report on Rogers.

Rogers has a slash line of .278/.354/.419 in 68 games with Indianapolis this season. He has nine home runs and 34 RBI. He’s played 31 games as the designated hitter and 37 at first base.

The pending departure would bring an end to the disappointing 2015 trade that brought Rogers to the Pirates from the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Keon Broxton, who is hitting .251 with 13 home runs this season in the major leagues.

Rogers’ departure might create an opening for the promotion of Altoona first baseman Edwin Espinal, who has a slash line of .284/.329/.463 in Double-A this season. Espinal has played all but one of 55 games at first base. That would then create room for Will Craig to move up to Altoona.

The move makes sense from the perspective of Rogers, who doesn’t have many avenues to reach the major leagues with the Pirates’ organization, barring several injuries. He played quite a bit at third base last season, but has only played first base this season.

Scouts for Japanese teams have been attending games in Indianapolis and followed the team on recent road trips, for several weeks.

  • Do MLB teams get any compensation when one of their guys signs in Japan?

  • I’ve never understood why more fringe guys don’t go this route.

    If I had AAAA skills, I’d take playing in front of large crowds, the chance to be a top performer, and living in a foreign country over waiting for an injury or September roster expansion.

  • Maybe add Polanco and Hurdle.

  • Sayonara, Rogers-san. We hardly knew ye, except for you not hitting when you were here.

  • he must have a great voice if he is “singing” with Japanese team.

  • That was an odd trade from the get-go. I remember distinctly reading Brewer fan comments laughing up their sleeves at the return they got and the little regard they had for Rogers. The Pirates seemingly had no real plan for him. Rogers has to be pretty frustrated with the Pirates at this point. What a career killer that trade was for him. Boy would Broxton look good in a Pirates uniform now and especially after they trade Cutch (not that I’m relishing that).

    • Supak doing really well in A ball. sub 2.00 ERA, more K’s than IP.

      He’s still a ways away, but, I’d sure like him at Bradenton.

      • I told you that ALAN HANSEN should have been in that trade but you were such a homer in regards to HANSEN.

    • Broxton has looked pretty good but his strikeout rate is ridiculous. 38% or so.

    • The Pirates 1B depth chart at the time of the trade was Mike Morse and Jake Goebbert. I think people tend to forget that part. Yes they ended up signing Jaso and Freese (not to mention Sean Rodriguez) later in the offseason making the Rogers trade unnecessary but at the time it clearly made some sense and to say otherwise is with the respect of hindsight.

  • good news for espinal and craig. looking forward to seeing what they can do at higher levels. but…..that was not a good trade for the pirates lol

    • Makes perfect sense. Both Espinal and Craig are deserving. Bell, Freese, Jaso and Osuna can play first (some better than others) so Rogers isn’t coming up before September. I hope it happens for everyone.