The Rockies would rather team young catcher Wilin Rosario with non-roster invitee Yorvit Torrealba, who would likely be a much more effective mentor for the defensively challenged 24-year-old.
So it makes sense to shop Hernandez, who is coming off of a rough season in which he played in only 52 games due to injury. He posted a career-low .601 OPS and will be 37 years old in May. Hey, the Rays apparently aren't afraid to take on guys coming off of bad seasons.
And why would the Rays want Hernandez? Their starter, Jose Molina, is one of the better all-around defensive catchers in the game but he isn’t expected to play more than half of the team’s games. He also doesn’t offer much with the bat. The current options to share time with him are Chris Gimenez and Jose Lobaton.
In Hernandez, they’d add another seasoned veteran who is only a year removed from posting a .788 OPS with Cincinnati in 91 games. Their skills could actually complement each other quite nicely if Hernandez still has something left in the tank.
Despite their ability to find guys like Joel Peralta and Francisco Rodney and turn their careers around, the Rays still appear thin in the bullpen. Adding a good young arm like Escalona, who has allowed one run in five spring innings with no walks and six strikeouts, could end up paying dividends.
Niemann’s value as a good starting pitcher with two years left of team control outweighs that of Hernandez and Escalona, which is why I included “prospect” in the trade. For this particular deal, that would probably be a mid-level prospect in the 11-to-15 range of the Rockies’ farm system.
The 30-year-old Niemann , who has a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 spring innings with three walks and nine strikeouts, would likely slot somewhere in the middle of the rotation behind Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa, and in front of Jeff Francis.
The Rays have several options to replace Niemann, including Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona), Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi.