Christian Bethancourt Traded to Rays from A's for Christian Fernandez, Cal Stevenson

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2022

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 01: Christian Bethancourt #23 of the Oakland Athletics looks on during the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on July 01, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics announced Saturday they traded catcher Christian Bethancourt to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for two minor league players, right-handed pitcher Christian Fernandez and outfielder Cal Stevenson.

Bethancourt returned to the majors for the first time since 2017 when he was recalled by the A's in mid-April. He's compiled a .249/.298/.385 slash line with four home runs in 56 MLB games this season.

Neither Fernandez nor Stevenson is listed among the Rays' top 30 prospects by MLB.com.

Bethancourt was a highly rated prospect in the Atlanta Braves' organization after signing as an international free agent in 2008. He made his MLB debut in 2013 and reached as high as No. 82 on MLB.com's list of the sport's top prospects in 2014.

The Panama native was traded to the San Diego Padres in 2015 and received his most extensive playing time in 2016, hitting six homers in 73 games for the Friars.

He became a free agent after the 2017 season and made stops with three MLB organizations, the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates, along with a stint in South Korea's KBO League before landing in Oakland ahead of the 2022 campaign.

With the A's in the midst of a rebuild, Bethancourt was able to earn a long-awaited return to the majors in a multifaceted role. He's played catcher, first base and designated hitter, and he even pitched a scoreless inning in a blowout loss to the Braves in June.

Now 30, he'll look to stick in the majors as an option off the bench for the Rays.

Oakland capitalized on Bethancourt restoring some trade value to add a couple of more players to its farm system, which MLB.com ranked 22nd out of the league's 30 franchises before the season.

Fernandez, 22, has compiled a mediocre 3.79 ERA in 72 appearances (43 starts) across five minor league seasons. That said, he's shown some promising signs this year with a 2.79 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 58 innings in Single-A.

Stevenson, 25, doesn't bring much pop (10 extra-base hits in 57 Triple-A games this season) but he carries some intrigue thanks to his on-base ability and speed. He's compiled a .407 OBP and 60 stolen bases in 323 appearances across four years in the minors.

Matt Kawahara @matthewkawahara

A's assistant GM Dan Feinstein says OF Cal Stevenson will report to Triple-A Las Vegas and "We like him as a center fielder," can also play corners. RHP Christian Fernandez will go into the rotation at High-A Lansing.

Expect Oakland to seek out more prospects ahead of the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline with starting pitcher Frankie Montas, outfielder Ramon Laureano and catcher Sean Murphy among the team's veteran trade candidates.