Tampa Bay Rays Send 2B Akinori Iwamura to Pirates for RHP Jesse Chavez

Thaddeus WalkContributor INovember 3, 2009

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Jesse Chavez #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses during photo day at the Pirates spring training complex on February 22, 2009 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports announced Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Rays have sent 2B Akinori Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Jesse Chavez.

While trades are generally encouraged to wait until after the completion of the World Series by MLB officials to avoid distraction, details of the trade were leaked Tuesday with an official announcement by the clubs to be expected in the next 24 hours.

Tampa Bay had perpetual bullpen issues throughout the 2009 campaign, one year removed from earning their first AL championship crown with the help of a bullpen that amassed an ERA of 3.55 going into the postseason, good enough to be fifth in the league.

In 2009, the bullpen had swollen to a 3.90 ERA, still good enough for fourth in the American League, but the Rays' playoff chances imploded when they fell into an 11-game losing streak in which the bullpen took six of the losses.

Iwamura missed much of 2009 with an ACL injury suffered in May. The Rays' talented middle infield depth for 2010, which includes SS Jason Bartlett, utility-everyman Ben Zobrist, SS Reid Brignac, and 2B Sean Rodriguez (recently acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade with the Angels) made him expendable.

The Rays hold a $4.25 million option on Iwamura for 2010, with a $250,000 buyout. A trade enables the Rays to save cash and acquire Chavez, rather than pay the buyout cost.

In his 82.3 innings in the majors, Jesse Chavez has posted a 4.48 ERA. He throws hard (an average fastball velocity of 94.4 mph) and features a slider and change-up as secondary pitches; however, his fastball has been known to have little to no movement at the plate, which could be a cause for concern. Chavez was 1-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 73 appearances last year for the Pirates.