Marlins Ink Utility Specialist Sean Rodriguez
While it hasn’t been flashy, it’s not out of the question to say the Miami Marlins have had a strong offseason so far. That recently continued as the Marlins inked a minor league contract with utility player Sean Rodriguez. This comes shortly after the Fish finalized a one-year, $3 million dollar contract with pitcher Brandon Kintzler and outfielder Matt Joyce to a $1.5 million deal.
The Utility Star
It may be a low-risk move for the Marlins right now, but should Rodriguez reach his potential, he could be a big asset going forward. Across his time with the Philadelphia Phillies alone, Rodriguez expanded what a utility player could do playing every position except catcher. The Florida native roamed the outfield, played in the infield dirt, and even pitched 1.1 scoreless innings off the mound as a pitcher.
Last season the 12-year veteran played in 76 games but started in just 24 games across the season. He spent 12 games at the hot corner, appeared five times at shortstop and left field, and at least one stint at second base, center field, and right field.
What gives the 34-year old more value is the production he put forth in those 76 games played. Rodriguez endured 94 defensive changes yet committed zero errors. Offensively, Rodriguez slashed a batting mark of .223/.348/.375 complete with 42 total bases.
The Rodriguez History
Entering his 13th season in the majors, Rodriguez does so as quite the journeyman. He is potentially getting set to play for his sixth different MLB team. Across his playing tenure, Rodriquez played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (384 games), Tampa Bay Rays (553 games), the Los Angeles Angels (71 games), Atlanta Braves (15 games) and of course the Phillies. (76 games). Across his MLB tenure, Rodriguez has produced a batting mark of .226/.302/.380 with 81 home runs and 298 total RBI. Rodriguez has also 42 stolen bases.
The best year for Rodriguez came in 2016 as a member of the Pirates. That year he played in a career-high 140 games. He also produced career-bests in batting average (.270), on-base percentage (.349), and slugging (.510). Additionally, he hit 18 home runs and 56 RBI which he has not come close to replicating since.
Rodriguez’s professional journey began when he was drafted by the then Anaheim Angels in the 2003 MLB amateur draft. He was the 90th overall selection and since that time has largely been thought of as a utility star.
The Potential Road Back to the MLB
Resting in the way of another MLB roster for Rodriguez lies a challenging yet easy pathway. Rodriguez has provided near-limitless utility value having carved out an 8.8 career WAR. A big part of that has come from his defensive abilities totaling a career defensive WAR of 3.4.
The challenging part comes through the fact that Miami already has eight infielders and eight outfielders on the 40-man roster. Then you add in the five non-roster invitees already vying for a spot on the big league roster. Also, there are other players who’ve proven to be utility stars like Brian Anderson, Jonathan Villar, Miguel Rojas, and Garrett Cooper.
Even if the utility star journeyman does not initially hit the major league ranks to start the 2020 season, he will still have the chance to make an MLB appearance come injury or otherwise. Time will tell but the Marlins may have a potential game-changer on their hands should Rodriguez reach his potential.