"It's been an ongoing evaluation," general manager Neal Huntington said of the decision to part ways with the 35-year-old veteran who had made eight starts, spread across a full calendar year, since his last win on May 26, 2013. "The stuff, the command, the ability to get Major League hitters out -- it wasn't where we felt it needed to be."
Taking Rodriguez's spot on the active roster immediately is catcher Russell Martin, who was activated after spending 26 days on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. The club has a few days to decide who will inherit Rodriguez's spot in the rotation, which does not come up again until Monday. In the interim, manager Clint Hurdle will have three catchers at his disposal, including Chris Stewart and Tony Sanchez.
Wednesday's start against the Orioles was Rodriguez's second since spending time on the DL with inflammation in his right knee. In six winless starts this season, Rodriguez worked to an ERA of 6.75.
"Wandy has worked hard, done everything we've asked of him," Huntington said. "But we really like the guys available to step in and put us in a better position to win games. We have better options. It was time to make the move."
After spending the final four months of the 2013 season sidelined with an arthritic elbow, Rodriguez exercised the player option in the three-year contract he had signed with the Astros in January 2011. It had originally been a club option, with the contractual language that it would adjust to a player option if he were to be traded.
The Bucs acquired Rodriguez from Houston in a July 2012 deal for outfielder Robbie Grossman and a pair of Minor League pitchers, Colton Cain and Rudy Owens.
The option was for $13 million, with the Astros still indebted for $5.5 million of it. Releasing Rodriguez would leave the Pirates responsible for the $5.25 million prorated portion of their $7.5 million share of the agreement.
"You're always cognizant of how you utilize the dollars, especially in a smaller market," Huntington said.
Being able to deal Rodriguez within the 10-day designation window would release the Pirates from any financial obligation to Rodriguez, pending any financial arrangement reached as part of the deal. Were Rodriguez to sign with another club following his release, his new club would only be in for the prorated portion of the Major League minimum of $500,000, with the Bucs still paying the balance.
"He's healthy, and that being said, to help him find his way back at the Major League level right now, we didn't feel it'd be productive for us, it would be challenging," Hurdle said. "It now gives him every opportunity to catch on with someone else while his arm is healthy."