Inbox: Should Bucs have dealt for S-Rod?

Beat reporter Adam Berry fields Pirates fans' questions

Inbox: Should Bucs have dealt for S-Rod?

Do you think trading for Sean Rodriguez was a good idea? We gave up a high-round pick with years of control for a guy who batted .167. Connor Joe or even another Minor Leaguer would have been worth a look instead.
-- Jack M., Elizabeth Township, Pa.

You almost have to throw out Rodriguez's numbers this year. He rushed back from an offseason car accident that caused extensive damage in his left shoulder. At the time of his surgery, he was expected to miss the entire season.

Considering his physical limitations, it's not surprising the results were poor: a .167/.276/.295 slash line with five home runs and 57 strikeouts in 153 plate appearances for the Braves and Pirates. Based on conversations with Rodriguez and others around the team, I believe he'll be better after a full offseason to rest, recover and rehab.

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I don't know if he'll repeat his career-best production of 2016, but he's a reasonable addition for $5.75 million next year. He's a trustworthy defender all over the diamond and a great guy to have in the clubhouse.

Think how useful a healthy Rodriguez would have been earlier this year. He could have lightened David Freese's workload. He would have been an upgrade defensively over John Jaso and Jose Osuna during Starling Marte's suspension and Gregory Polanco's disabled list stints. In that regard, he's still a valuable super-utility man off the bench.

Joe, the 39th-overall pick in the 2014 Draft who was traded for Rodriguez, wasn't exactly on fire in the Minors. As a corner infielder/outfielder, he posted a .659 OPS this year while finishing the season at Double-A at age 25. So I disagree that Joe was worth a look, and I don't think Rodriguez is going to block anyone next year.

What will Max Moroff's role be next season? And do you think Gift Ngoepe could possibly make a return to the Bucs next year?
-- Kade W., Montgomery, Pa.

With his switch-hitting bat and solid glove, Moroff is high on the Pirates' list of utility infielders. He quietly hit .278 with an .846 OPS in the second half. Where does he fit? Let's look at two scenarios for their Opening Day bench, assuming there are no substantial additions.

Radio Call: Moroff's big triple

If Jung Ho Kang remains on the restricted list and Freese is the primary starter at third, they have Rodriguez, Adam Frazier, a backup catcher (Elias Diaz) and two TBD spots. Osuna might fill one, and the other could go to any number of candidates, including Moroff, Chris Bostick or Jordan Luplow.

If Kang can play, it's Freese, Rodriguez, Frazier, Diaz and TBD. The last spot is still flexible, as Freese and Osuna would be redundant corner infielders. They could commit Frazier or Rodriguez to more outfield work and carry an infielder like Moroff, or fill out the bench with a true fourth outfielder.

It doesn't bode well for Ngoepe that he wasn't among Pittsburgh's September callups. He's popular within the organization and so skilled defensively, but there are still valid questions about whether he'll hit Major League pitching.

How is Kang doing in winter ball?
-- Ryan M., Pittsburgh

He entered Wednesday with a .140/.184/.233 slash line, one homer, 17 strikeouts and two walks in 12 games while mostly hitting cleanup and playing third base for Aguilas Cibaenas. He hadn't seen live pitching in a year, so it shouldn't be surprising or overly concerning if he's rusty.

Another Dominican Winter League note: Marte was added to the Leones del Escogido roster on Monday, so he'll make up for some of the time he lost during his suspension. According to Marte's Twitter account, he will be in uniform on Wednesday.

What has become of Brandon Cumpton? He pitched well before shoulder surgery.
-- Rich K., Sarver, Pa.

After Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery in 2015, Cumpton worked his way back to the mound this year. He pitched at three levels and made it back to Triple-A, recording an overall a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings over 24 relief appearances. Based on his service time, Cumpton, who turns 29 this month, should be eligible for Minor League free agency.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.