An Under The Radar Good Move
Yesterday, the Mariners signed Luis Rodriguez to a minor league contract. A 30 year old utility infielder who spent all of 2010 in the minors, he’s probably not going to excite you much. However, as I wrote on FanGraphs a few months ago, Rodriguez’s 2010 season was pretty interesting, and makes him a guy worth taking a flyer on.
Up until this year, he’d never really hit at all. In 4,000 minor league plate appearances, he has a career .276/.356/.372 line. In 1,000 career major league plate appearances, he’s hit just .243/.316/.323. For his career, he’s been worth +0.7 wins. He’s been the definition of a replacement level player – an okay defensive second baseman who can’t hit much and is stretched defensively at shortstop. However, you’d never know that’s what he was from looking at his line in Charlotte from last year.
In 400 plate appearances, he hit .293/.364/.493, launching a career high 16 home runs in just 94 games. His previous career high for home runs in a season was eight, and that was over 129 games back in 2002. He had as many extra base hits as strikeouts, racking up 35 of each. It was, in every way, a career year for Rodriguez. When a 30-year-old has a big year in Triple-A out of nowhere, you can usually write it off as meaningless. However, there are some interesting parallels between Rodriguez and Andres Torres, as I wrote about in the linked post above.
Is Rodriguez going to turn into Andres Torres 2.0? Don’t count on it. However, players develop at different rates, and if Rodriguez has figured out how to drive the ball after years of slapping it on the ground, there’s a chance that he could be a pretty useful reserve infielder. The M’s will be able to give him a look in Peoria and see whether they think he can carry over his 2010 success to the big leagues. If he continues to show some pop, he could end up as a nice role player for the league minimum. If he goes back to looking like the pre-2010 version, the M’s can simply assign him to Tacoma and let him serve as minor league depth.
It isn’t the kind of move that will get headlines, but it’s a nice little pickup for the M’s, and gives the organization another interesting player to watch in March. .