The Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds completed a three-team trade Monday that will send pitching prospects to Cincinnati and Arizona and catcher Ryan Hanigan and reliever Heath Bell to Tampa Bay.
Arizona's official website confirmed the deal. The Rays will send righty Justin Choate and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks, while Arizona will send lefty David Holmberg to Cincinnati:
The trade was first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
The two most recognizable names in the deal are Hanigan and Bell, who the Rays hope will return to their past form. Hanigan struggled mightily at the plate last season while playing in a platoon with Devin Mesoraco, hitting a career-low .198/.306/.261 while belting two home runs and 21 RBI.
While the 33-year-old catcher is mostly known for his defensive acumen, his keen eye at the plate and solid contact metrics had turned him into a solid platoon option over his seven seasons in Cincinnati.
Tampa Bay will now have arguably the best defensive catching platoon in all of baseball. The Rays re-signed 2013 starting catcher Jose Molina earlier this week, and they will now have two catchers who can manage their young staff. Neither Molina, 38, nor Hanigan are everyday catchers at this point, so having both will be a massive boon for Joe Maddon.
Bell, 36, is the latest instance of the Rays attempting to find value in a player a team is desperate to get rid of. Arizona acquired Bell and his hefty salary from the Miami Marlins last winter, but the formerly dominant righty scuffled for the second straight year. He finished with a 4.11 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, blowing nearly half as many saves (seven) as he converted (15).
Bell's three-year, $27 million deal expires after next season. Bob Nightengale of USA Today that Arizona will have to pay only $500,000 of his $9 million salary, a surprising high-cost move for the usually frugal Rays, offset somewhat by the $4 million still being paid by Miami:
In return, the Diamondbacks will receive Choate, a 22-year-old prospect (he turns 23 on Dec. 31) who spent last season in the Rays organization. Undrafted out of Stephen F. Austin State, he pitched 16 games for the Single-A Hudson Valley Renegades, going 1-3 with a 2.88 ERA and striking out 35 batters over 40.2 innings pitched.
Holmberg, who made a spot start this season for Arizona, was drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. He was traded to the Diamondbacks as part of the Edwin Jackson deal a year later, and has been working his way through the farm system since.
The 22-year-old lefty went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 26 starts for Double-A Mobile in 2013.
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