According to a tweet from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Detroit Tigers are interested in free agent Sean Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, a 30-year-old utility player, spent last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates after spending five seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. He also has suited up for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the team that drafted him. The Halos sent him to Tampa as one of the main pieces in the Scott Kazmir trade. The utility player is a career .228 hitter, but he’s hit exactly .246 in two of the last three seasons.
Over the last six seasons, Rodriguez averaged 32 RBI, 15 doubles, seven home runs, six stolen bases and two triples per year.
For his career, the former Pirate has posted a total oWAR of 4.1. While that may not seem like a huge number (J.D. Martinez’ oWAR in 2015 alone was 4.6), it would provide a significant upgrade over past Detroit utility players.
Utility players main source of value is generally the player’s ability to play multiple positions, offensive production is nice too.
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Incumbent utility fielder Andrew Romine, and his predecessor Don Kelly, haven’t performed nearly as well as Rodriguez has with the bat. During Romine and Kelly’s cumulative time with the Tigers, the duo’s combined oWAR is zero. No, that’s not a typo. Romine’s oWAR is 0.9 and Kelly’s oWAR was -0.9.
Definite advantage Rodriguez.
The Tigers could still use some extra outfield help and Rodriguez would provide that as well. He played 30 games between left and right field in 2015.
If the Tigers signed him, the former Pittsburgh player obviously wouldn’t become the starting left fielder, but it’s a good sign that he can provide cover in the outfield corners. In fact, Rodriguez can provide cover just about everywhere.
During the 2015 season, Rodriguez logged multiple games at every infield position in addition to playing both corner outfield spots.
This positional flexibility could be a massive boon for the Tigers. Rodriguez’ ability to play so many different positions would potentially allow Detroit to carry one fewer batter. This means a spare roster spot that could be used for an extra pitcher or to snag a useful player off waivers.
Rodriguez isn’t a liability with the glove either. He won’t post outstanding defensive metrics, but he does own a career 3.7 dWAR.
Motor City Bengals previously looked at why the former Pittsburgh Pirate (among other players), would be good bench additions for the Detroit Tigers. You can check out that by clicking on this link.
The Tigers’ bench is already starting to take place. One of Bryan Holaday or Jarrod Saltalamacchia will play backup James McCann behind the dish. In addition to a reserve catcher, a fourth outfielder will occupy a bench spot. That will likely be one of Anthony Gose, Cameron Maybin or Tyler Collins (depending on who doesn’t start on that particular day). The last bench spot or two will likely be handed to infielders. Dixon Machado and Romine seem the best bets to fill those spots. However, the potential addition of Rodriguez would give Detroit much more in-game flexibility, while improving the team greatly.