Pirates acquire Sean Rodriguez from Rays, designate Gaby Sanchez for assignment

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Sean Rodriguez, whom the Rays designated for assignment last week, has been traded to the Pirates for a player to be named later and cash. And to make room on the roster Pittsburgh designated for assignment Gaby Sanchez.

Pittsburgh is committed to the left-handed-hitting Pedro Alvarez at first base in 2015 and the right-handed-hitting Sanchez could have stuck around to platoon with him, but the Pirates felt his projected $2.7 million arbitration salary was too much for that role (and/or they prefer Rodriguez).

Rodriguez brings a lot of defensive versatility to the table as a utility man and can hit left-handed pitching pretty well, but he’s been terrible versus right-handed pitching and is a career .225 hitter with a .670 OPS overall. He’s projected to make around $2 million via arbitration for 2015, after which Rodriguez will be a free agent.

Sanchez struggled this year, hitting .229 with seven homers and a .679 OPS in 123 games. He’s a career .254 hitter with a .744 OPS, including .291 with an .863 OPS versus lefties, so at the very least the 31-year-old Sanchez will find a part-time role elsewhere.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.