The Tampa Bay Rays got pretty much all of the value in a three-team trade also involving the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds, acquiring reliever Heath Bell from the Diamondbacks and Ryan Hanigan in the deal. Tampa Bay also signed Hanigan to a three-year contract extension worth $10.75 million. On the other two sides of the trade, the Reds picked up starter David Holmberg and the Diamondbacks grabbed reliever Justin Choate.
Let's focus on Tampa Bay's part of this trade, because it's far and away the most significant. Hanigan was trade bait for the Reds ever since the team signed Brayan Pena to a two-year contract last month. The Rays were immediately tied to him, but they seemed to be out of the running after re-signing Jose Molina. It now appears they'll go into 2014 with both of the elite framers on their roster, and the status of Jose Lobaton is now up in the air. Lobaton isn't some sort of young, blue chip prospect – he's a 29-year old that hit .249/.320/.394 a year ago. But his future will be a question, and he could end up as trade bait for Tampa Bay before the winter is out.
And then, there's Heath Bell. Arizona is only picking up $500,000 of Bell's salary, but the Marlins are already paying $4 million, meaning that the Rays will be paying Bell a maximum of $6 million on his $10 million contract. The 36-year old Bell had another bad year in 2013, but there were some positives – an increased strikeout rate, decreased walk rate, and sustained velocity are three very good signs going forward. Bell was doomed by the 12 home runs he allowed in 65 2/3 innings, and here's another bright spot – eight of those homers came at Chase Field. Maybe getting out of the desert and into Tropicana Field will help him curb that issue and turn him back into a pretty good reliever.
I think you can pretty definitively say that Fernando Rodney is done in Tampa with the acquisition of Bell. The Rays paid Rodney $2.5 million a year ago, and they'll be paying Bell double that. Rodney is in the market for a similar salary, and the Rays aren't the type of team that dishes out multiple millions for set-up men.
The other pieces moving aren't really exciting. Choate is a 22-year old reliever who had a 2.88 ERA in 40 2/3 innings for low-A Hudson Valley in 2013, his pro debut. He also added 35 strikeouts and nine walks. The 22-year old Holmberg spent nearly the entire year with AA Mobile, pitching to a 2.75 ERA in 157 1/3 innings to go along with 116 strikeouts and 50 walks. He initially came to Arizona in 2010 from the White Sox along with the now non-tendered Daniel Hudson in exchange for Edwin Jackson.
All in all, the Rays gave up a reliever in short-season ball for a potential bullpen upgrade and another solid catcher that is now signed cheaply for the next three seasons, the Reds picked up some organizational depth, and the Diamondbacks managed to clear some payroll. The only team that this trade will have a huge impact on in 2014 is Tampa Bay, and if Bell starts blowing saves in the Bronx or at Fenway, his acquisition could look awful in hindsight.