The past two days in baseball have given us a few trades, plus a rush to lock up relief pitchers and catchers. Then came a three-team deal Tuesday involving the Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks that had all three of those things in one.
The Rays added catcher Ryan Hanigan and potential closer Heath Bell, while the Reds and D-backs traded spare parts for prospects and contract relief. The deal was first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2013
The hot stove is hot right now, folks. Let's break this thing down:
• The Rays are acquiring the most needed-right-now pieces of this deal, getting Bell from the D-backs and Hanigan from the Reds. Bell looks like he'll get a chance to close to the Rays, since Fernando Rodney is a free agent. Bell closed a bit in 2013 for the D-backs, collecting 15 saves but was a setup man by season's end. He notched 132 saves for the San Diego Padres between 2009 and 2011, but his ERA skyrocketed in 2012 and 2013 — 5.09 in '12 and 4.11 last season.
• Hanigan was expendable in Cincinnati after the Reds signed Brayan Pena last month. Hanigan is more valuable behind the plate than he is with a bat. He's known for framing pitches well, throwing out base-stealers and leading a pitching staff. As people are saying, skipper Joe Maddon is going to love him. Hanigan had a particularly down year offensively in 2013, hitting .198/.306/.261. He is, however, a career .262/.359/.343 hitter. He's expected to start for the Rays, who also have Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton at catcher. Molina just re-signed with the Rays, leaving Lobaton as the odd man out. One rumor has him on his way to the Chicago White Sox.
• The Reds gets David Holmberg, a 22-year-old who has pitched in exactly one big league game for the D-backs. He spent most of 2013 in Double-A, where he had a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts. Holmberg was profiled last season by D-backs beat writer Nick Piecoro, who wrote the young pitcher didn't have amazing stuff, but he carried himself like a veteran pitcher.
• The D-backs are adding Justin Choate, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher who played short season Single-A ball for the Rays in 2013. He finished his college baseball career earlier in the year at Stephen F. Austin, then was signed as a free-agent by Tampa Bay. He had a 2.88 ERA in 16 relief appearances. The D-backs are also getting a player to be named later or cash considerations in the deal. Arizona will save $5.5 million by trading Bell (they'll pay part of his $9 million salary), so they might be back in the market for relief pitching soon.
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The Walk-Off is your end-of-the-day collection of news and gossip from the world of baseball, plus the best of the blogosphere and other assorted goodness.
TENDER TALK: Monday is the deadline day for MLB teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players or send them away as free agents. Here's an updated-as-it-happens rundown of which players were tendered contracts before Monday night's deadline. [MLB Daily Dish]
PEACE OUT, JV1: Jordany Valdespin was non-tendered by the Mets after a season in which he threw a tantrum, was suspended for PEDs and got hit in the junk by a fastball. [Newsday]
BLAST FROM THE STEW PAST: On this occasion, please enjoy a Big League Stew post from August: "Is Jordany Valdespin the biggest fool in all of baseball?" [Yahoo Sports]
GOSSIP: Pour some gas on the Curtis Granderson-to-the-Mets fire. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with Curtis Granderson on Sunday. [@Ken_Rosenthal]
NEWS: The New York Yankees aren't going to ante up $200 million to re-sign star second baseman Robinson Cano, writes Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan. [Yahoo Sports]
R.I.P: Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Evan Chambers has died at age 24. He was a former third-round pick who missed most of 2013 with a broken foot. [Pirates Prospects]
NOMAR JOINS THE DODGERS: As a broadcaster. The ESPN analyst has reportedly been lured to L.A. where he'll join the Dodgers' new regional sports network. [L.A. Times]
GOSSIP: Contract talks with free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury are moving quicker than expected. A deal could be coming by next week's Winter Meetings. [@jaysonst]
OFFER: The Yankees want another year of starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, 38, and have offered him a contract in hopes of stopping him from retiring or returning to Japan. [ESPN]
TRADE: Backup catcher Chris Stewart was dealt from the Yankees to the Pirates for a player to be named later. Stewart says he'll need to find new reading buddies. [Wall Street Journal]
FREE-AGENT SIGNING: Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal with the Blue Jays, which should mean the end of the J.P. Arencibia era in Toronto. [Toronto Star]
GOSSIP: Orioles closer Jim Johnson is likely on the move and the Dodgers are among his suitors. The Dodgers wouldn't take Kenley Jansen's job away would they? [@Ken_Rosenthal]
FREE-AGENT SIGNING: Seattle Mariners bring back utility man Willie Bloomquist (previously of the Arizona Diamondbacks) on a two-year contract. [Seattle Times]
COACHING NEWS: The Diamondbacks name Mike Harkey as their new pitching coach and Mel Stottlemyre Jr. as bullpen coach. [Associated Press]
READ THIS: Selecting the "Public Enemy No. 1" for all 30 MLB teams. [Sporting News]
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