Braves deal Rodriguez back to Bucs

Already versatile, Atlanta acquires prospect Joe and financial flexibility

Braves deal Rodriguez back to Bucs

ATLANTA -- As the Braves evaluated how to best focus on their future during this season's final two months, they determined Sean Rodriguez had become expendable, and then took advantage of the opportunity to gain some financial flexibility.

Approximately three weeks after returning from what had the possibility to be season-ending shoulder surgery, Rodriguez learned he will now return to his former team. Atlanta traded the veteran utility man to Pittsburgh in exchange for Minor League first baseman/outfielder Connor Joe on Saturday.

This deal was completed after the Pirates claimed Rodriguez when he was placed on revocable waivers earlier this week.

"It's painful to trade a player, and more importantly a person, like Sean," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "There is good opportunity for Sean in Pittsburgh and increased opportunity for our young players here in Atlanta."

The emergence of Johan Camargo and the midseason arrival of Danny Santana enhanced the versatility the Braves were projected to possess when they signed Rodriguez to a two-year, $11.5 million deal in November.

Because the Pirates are assuming responsibility for the remainder of Rodriguez's deal, the Braves will gain approximately $7.5 million worth of financial flexibility. This figure accounts for the remainder of this year's $5 million salary, next year's $5 million salary and the half of his $1.5 million signing bonus owed in 2018.

After tallying a career-best 18 home runs and compiling a .859 OPS with the Pirates last year, Rodriguez was projected to be a versatile member of the Braves' lineup this season. But this plan was altered in late January when he tore his left rotator cuff in an auto accident that claimed the life of a man who had stolen a police cruiser in Miami, Fla.

Initially it was believed Rodriguez would be sidelined throughout this season, but he diligently completed his rehab and returned to Atlanta's lineup on July 17. He hit .162 (6-for-37) with two home runs and 19 strikeouts over 15 games. Rodriguez went 1-for-20 with 14 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers.

"I have nothing but the utmost respect after seeing what that kid went through and how he just worked and worked," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "The desire he had to get back on the field was unbelievable."

Joe was selected by the Pirates in the first round (39th overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft. While making the transition from catcher to first baseman and corner outfielder, he has produced a .713 OPS over 264 games at the professional level. He hit .240 with five homers and a .718 OPS for Double-A Altoona this year.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.