PITTSBURGH -- Sean Rodriguez wanted to stay in Pittsburgh last winter. The Pirates wanted to keep him. The two sides couldn't agree to a deal, and Rodriguez found a better situation -- and a two-year, $11.5 million contract -- with the Braves.On Saturday, the Pirates set up a reunion. Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- Sean Rodriguez wanted to stay in Pittsburgh last winter. The Pirates wanted to keep him. The two sides couldn't agree to a deal, and Rodriguez found a better situation -- and a two-year, $11.5 million contract -- with the Braves.
On Saturday, the Pirates set up a reunion. Pittsburgh claimed the veteran super-utility man on revocable waivers and worked out a deal with Atlanta, sending 2014 first-round Draft pick Connor Joe to the Braves.
Rodriguez is expected to join the Pirates before Sunday's series finale against the Padres at PNC Park. Under contract through next season, Rodriguez will provide the Bucs with a versatile glove and valuable leadership as they hope to contend down the stretch this year, and expect to do so next season.
"We tried to keep him here. We weren't able to keep him here," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We lost the power. Lost the defensive versatility. Lost the energy he brings every single day. We returned that to this club this year. … He's excited to come in here and help this club this year and bounce around the field and do the things he did to help us win."
Rodriguez will play the same role he held in Pittsburgh the past two years, offering much-needed infield and outfield depth for the Pirates as they face an uphill climb in the National League Central race. With a 5-2 loss to the Padres on Saturday, the Pirates fell 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cubs.
Rodriguez, 32, hit .270 with an .859 OPS and 18 home runs last season.
"We know he can go field a number of places. He showed up very well for us in the batter's box last year," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He brings a unique energy and edge that helps our club as well."
Rodriguez, his wife Giselle and two of their four children were involved in a late-January car crash. Rodriguez suffered a torn left rotator cuff, while Giselle sustained a broken femur, a fractured tibial plateau, a fractured wrist and three broken ribs. The Pirates remained in contact with Rodriguez, offering support throughout his recovery.
Rodriguez had surgery Feb. 14 and was expected to miss the entire season. He made his Braves debut July 17.
"His work ethic has always been one of his strengths. His desire has always been one of his strengths," Hurdle said. "He's a very focused man."
Rodriguez is batting just .162 with 19 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances in his first 15 games back and has started at four positions: second and third base, and left and right field.
"Sean is a good hitter. We see the same aggressiveness. We see the same impact," Huntington said. "The swing-and-miss has been a challenge for him so far in a short sample, but we believe it's a short sample. We love the defensive versatility and the energy that goes along with Sean as he adds to this club."
Rodriguez could provide future insurance for second baseman Josh Harrison, a potential trade candidate in the offseason, as well as Jungho Kang, whose legal troubles in South Korea have prevented him from acquiring a work visa.
Joe, who will turn 25 later this month, hit .240/.338/.378 with five home runs and 30 RBIs for Double-A Altoona this year. Drafted 39th overall in 2014 as a catcher, Joe began his career at the infield corners before moving to the outfield. He started 23 games at first base and 33 in right field this season.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.