You don't usually see trades at the end of January, but the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres pulled off a minor -- but interesting -- deal on Wednesday. The Rays sent lefty reliever Alex Torres and minor league right-hander Jesse Hahn to the Padres for infielder Logan Forsythe and right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger.
The trade may seem a little surprising considering Torres' breakout season in 2013 as he moved from the rotation to the pen and dominated at the major league level, posting a 1.71 ERA while striking out 62 in 58 innings. Torres' history as a starter allowed Joe Maddon to use him for multiple innings if needed and Torres pitched his 58 innings over 39 appearances.
But as Tommy Rancel of The Process Report pointed out:
Though I expect Torres to be a fine pitcher going forward, left-handed relievers are a point of strength within the Rays’ organization. Aside from Alpha Lefty, Jake McGee, the club also has Cesar Ramos, C.J. Riefenhauser, Pedro Figueroa, and Jeff Beliveau on the 40-man roster. The club also added former A’s lefty Jordan Norberto to the mix this winter. Norberto must serve a 50-game suspension because of his link to Biogenesis, but has a live arm, a good slider, and past success at the big league level. There is also a wildcard in Enny Romero, the lefty starter who some feel is destined for an impact role in the bullpen.
Jason Collette breaks down Boxberger here. A former supplemental first-round pick of the Reds in 2009 who came over to San Diego in the Mat Latos trade, Boxberger has struggled with his command in his major league stints, but has the kind of arm the Rays like. Forysthe has primarily played second base for the Padres, but brings multi-positional flexibility, as he can play short, third or the outfield as well. Think Maddon can figure out how to use a guy like that? He's pretty useless against right-handed pitching but can be matched up against lefties.
The Padres, looking for a lefty reliever, plan on keeping Torres in the bullpen and he joins Joaquin Benoit as the primary setup guys in front of closer Huston Street. The Padres ranked 10th in the majors in bullpen ERA in 2013 but they've re-shuffled the deck chairs, trading Luke Gregerson and signing Benoit and now adding Torres.
Hahn is the wild card in the deal. Drafted in 2010 out of Virginia Tech, he didn't make his professional debut until 2012 following Tommy John surgery. He made 19 starts in the Florida State with good numbers but was handled very carefully, throwing just 67 innings. He has a plus fastball and has a chance at four quality pitches. He's a deep sleeper but watch him in 2014 as he extends his workload.
Overall, it looks like a deal that should help both teams, especially if the Rays can help Boxberger maximize his potential.