Blue Jays rumours: Sean Rodriguez the latest free agent target

The Toronto Blue Jays have been active early in free agency, agreeing to deals with Kendrys Morales and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Sean Rodriguez is “emerging as a possible fit” for the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported on Thursday.

Much like Steve Pearce, who has also been linked to the Blue Jays throughout the young off-season, Rodriguez offers a great deal of defensive flexibility.

Rodriguez appeared at every position other than pitcher and catcher in 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, logging 60 or more innings at all four infield positions and in right field. His defensive metrics show a player that is at least serviceable at the majority of these positions as well. While he won’t win a Gold Glove Award, Rodriguez is a natural enough defender that a manager can deploy him freely and without hesitation.

He also knows a thing or two about well-timed free agent seasons, as Rodriguez is coming off his strongest offensive year by a wide margin. The 31-year-old right-hander hit .270 with a career best OBP (.349) and OPS (.859). His 18 home runs and 56 RBI also represent a career high.

Of course, the variable is whether these improvements came from conscious changes or good fortune. More accurately: on which side of that combination does the truth lie? Rodriguez was worth -0.2 WAR in both 2014 and 2015 before producing a value of 1.9 WAR last season, so any team that adds him will be taking a gamble (albeit an educated one).

It is unclear whether Rodriguez would be considered for a specific starting role or if his fit in Toronto would be as an “everyday backup” — the type of player who does not have a regular role but is consistently giving one starter a day off.

In terms of platoon potential, Rodriguez has hit left-handed pitching better throughout his career with a .755 OPS compared to a .651 OPS versus right-handers.

Rodriguez should be in line for a nice raise from his $2.5 million salary in 2016. His ability to appeal to multiple teams on multiple levels should also create a wide market that nets Rodriguez a two-year contract, but three years, while unlikely, is not entirely out of the equation.

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