The Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates got together and made a trade yesterday.
The Tampa Bay Rays sent 2B Akinori Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Jesse Chavez. The Pirates will assume all of the $4.85 million on Iwamura’s contract for 2010.
For the Rays, they save the $650,000 buyout on Iwamura’s contract–which they would have had to have paid if they had just declined Iwamura’s contract option. Chavez will be under the Ray’s control until after the 2014 season.
I asked fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member and writer for AOL Fanhouse and the No.1 Pirates blog on the web, Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke, Pat Lackey what his initial thoughts were on the trade…
“It’s a short-term move for the Pirates, which I’m not exactly keen about given that the team’s focus should be down the road, but as short-term moves go, this isn’t a bad one.
“Iwamura fills an immediate need for the team at second base and can move around the infield as necessary when Pedro Alvarez is ready, depending on how he, Andy LaRoche, and Garrett Jones are playing. Jesse Chavez was one of the Bucs’ most reliable reliever last year, but his strikeout rate dropped a bit while he reined in his walks and he’s got a bit of a homerun problem.
“All told, the move might not help the Pirates past 2010, but it probably doesn’t hurt them much either.”
I agree with Pat.
Is Iwawura going to help the Pirates win a World Series? Probably not. But the Pirates are trying to build a team around speed and defense and Iwamura fits that bill.
Iwamura is one of the best fielding second baseman in baseball and should fill the gap left at second base when Freddy Sanchez was traded. Best case scenario for the Pirates–Iwamura plays his usual solid second base, hits .285, and the Pirates trade him in July to a contender for prospects.
As for the Rays, thanks to Ben Zobrist’s breakout year (.297/27/91/.405), they didn’t need Iwamura. But what they do need is bullpen help and Chavez gives the Rays a serviceable option out of the pen.
Chavez appeared in 73 games for the Pirates in 2008 posting a 4.01 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, and a 6.3 K/9 rate. Pat mentioned above that Chavez had a homerun problem. He gave up 11 big-flies in those 73 innings, which isn’t great for a reliever.
I expect the Rays to be very active this Winter. Trading Iwamura is just the start.