According to Mark Bowman, who covers the Atlanta Braves for MLB.com, the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired infielder Sean Rodriguez from the Braves for a catching prospect. David O’Brien, who also covers the Braves, reports that the prospect is actually a 1B/OF.
What we do know is that Rodriguez is signed this season and next for $5M each year. This year would just be the pro-rated amount, with approximately 1/3 of the season left.
Rodriguez has been out most of this season due to a car accident prior to Spring Training which required shoulder surgery. He wasn’t expected to be back by now, but has played 15 games with the Braves after a short rehab, posting a .162/.326/.351 slash line.
UPDATE 2:10 PM: The player returning to the Braves is Connor Joe according to O’Brien. He was hitting .240/.338/.380 for Altoona this season in 74 games. Joe just recently returned for a dislocated finger that kept him out for a month and he has been slow to get up to speed, hitting .161 with a .590 OPS during that time. Joe was rated as our 35th best prospect during the mid-season top 50 update.
UPDATE 2:48 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
The Pirates tried to add Rodriguez at the start of the year, but he signed with the Braves for two years and $11.5 M. They’re now getting him for about $1.6 M for the remainder of the year, along with $5 M next year (and an additional $750,000 if they’re responsible for the bonus). Rodriguez is just returning from a car accident during Spring Training, and has been slow to return. However, he could help the Pirates in a number of ways over the next year.
The biggest way he could help is by splitting time with David Freese at third. We’ve seen this year that Freese can’t really handle an everyday role at this point in his career. Rodriguez provides strong defense, and could move around the field to provide that same defense. This would especially help in the outfield, as I think he’s a better defensive option than Adam Frazier, and definitely better in the outfield than Jose Osuna. I could see this leading to Max Moroff going down in the short-term, although Moroff should be back when rosters expand, and would have a shot at next year’s bench with John Jaso gone.
Connor Joe’s story didn’t work out the way the Pirates wanted. He was drafted 39th overall, but threw out his back in his first week in the system before playing a game. They had plans to try him behind the plate, and play him at third. After the injury, he was no longer an option behind the plate, which hurt his potential value, as his bat would have played well there. He did move to third base for a year, and showed some range and quickness, but was still a project. He looked fine defensively in the corner outfield spots and at first base.
The downside was that Joe hadn’t hit consistently enough to warrant a corner spot. He still shows a lot of raw power potential, and has boosted the power numbers this year with a .140 ISO. There still looks to be more power for him in the future. He also looks like a guy who should be hitting for a better average and getting on base more often, as he’s not overmatched with a 14% strikeout rate and a 12% walk rate.
He’s a good project for the Braves. We profiled him recently as a guy who would likely be a bench player, with the upside of an average starter, and the floor of a Quad-A guy. The Pirates, however, have a lot of those types of options for first base and the outfield, so they’re trading from an area of depth here.