Luis Rodriguez Officially A Mariner
The M’s finalized their roster after tonight’s exhibition with the Dodgers, purchasing the contracts of Ryan Langerhans and Luis Rodriguez to fill the final two spots on the bench. Langerhans, you know, but Rodriguez is a new face to the organization, and probably one that you haven’t seen much of a reason to be overly interested in. After all, he’s filling the last spot on the roster – how interesting could he be?
More interesting than you might think. I’m pretty happy to see the M’s decide to carry Rodriguez, as he offers some upside that you don’t generally expect from the last guy on the bench. If you didn’t click the link, it goes to my writeup of Rodriguez from last August where I compared his development to that of Andres Torres, who found some late-career power and turned himself into a good Major Leaguer. Rodriguez had a monster season for Charlotte last year, and while it could just be one of those fluke seasons that happens from time to time, there’s also a chance that Rodriguez learned how to drive the ball last year, and there’s some chance that could carry over to 2011.
If even part of Rodriguez’s breakout was real, he could actually be a decent role player for the M’s both this year and going forward. Right now, Adam Kennedy and Jack Wilson are sharing the second base job, but they’re basically keeping the seat warm for Dustin Ackley. If Jack Wilson is traded this summer as expected, the team will need some kind of right-handed second baseman to give Ackley a day off against tough left-handers here and there. Kennedy’s left-handed bat makes him ill-suited for that role, but Rodriguez is a switch-hitter who could slide into the spot and give the team a guy who can give them a different look at second base when Ackley’s slumping or just needs a breather.
Additionally, there’s also the possibility that Chone Figgins could play well enough this year to give him some trade value at the deadline, in which case the team would be in need of a replacement at third base. With the possibility of drafting Anthony Rendon this summer, the organization could certainly end up looking for a short-term solution who could provide some value at the position in the short term. Rodriguez certainly isn’t your prototypical third baseman, but if he shows some of the power he displayed in Charlotte last year, he could hit enough to provide some offense from the hot corner.
He’s not a young hotshot prospect by any means, but there are late bloomers in baseball, and Rodriguez showed enough in Triple-A last year to earn another shot in the big leagues. Having him around as a reserve infielder gives the team to evaluate whether the power spike was real and see if he can force his way into more regular playing time. If he does, they might just have a nice little player on their hands. It’s the kind of potential reward that the likes of Josh Wilson simply didn’t offer, and it’s why I like the call for Rodriguez as the 25th man.
He may very well just go back to hitting like he has the rest of his career, and if that happens, he probably won’t be on this team for more than a month or two. But, on the off chance that he hits like he did in 2010, then the bench would suddenly be a bit more interesting.