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Rays get Ryan Hanigan from Reds, Heath Bell from Diamondbacks in three-team deal

Dec 3, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT

Ryan Hanigan Getty Getty Images

UPDATE: Not only are the Rays getting Hanigan from the Reds as their new starting catcher, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that they’re also getting reliever Heath Bell from the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team trade.

Bell has become sort of a punchline in recent years, but he was quietly fairly effective for Arizona with a 4.11 ERA and 72/16 K/BB ratio in 66 innings. He served up too many homers, but the bat-missing and control are certainly enough to think he can give the Rays some solid innings.

Rosenthal says the rest of the three-team swap includes the Diamondbacks getting Single-A right-hander Justin Choate and a player to be named later from the Rays and the Reds getting left-hander David Holmberg–a decent prospect who made his MLB debut in August–from the Diamondbacks. And of course there’s money changing hands to pay for Bell’s salary.

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Tampa Bay just re-signed Jose Molina to a two-year, $4.5 million deal, but the Rays aren’t done at catcher. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that they’re acquiring Ryan Hanigan from the Reds.

Hanigan has long been underrated because of his excellent on-base skills, but he hit just .198 in 75 games this year at age 32. However, he posted an on-base percentage above .350 in each of the previous six seasons and Hanigan’s career mark of .359 ranks sixth among all active catchers. He also grades out very well in pitch-framing, which the Rays emphasized in signing Molina in the first place.

He’ll presumably take over as the Rays’ primary backstop, with Molina sliding into more of a true backup role that he filled for so many years before getting a bigger opportunity in Tampa Bay recently. Jose Lobatan, who appeared in 100 games for the Rays this year, is likely now trade bait.

This move signals that Cincinnati is ready to hand the starting job to 25-year-old former top prospect Devin Mesoraco, with free agent pickup Brayan Pena backing him up.

  1. alang3131982 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    That OBP might be a bit embellished from batting order position in the NL.

    Hit .253/.349 out of the 8 hole (1,113 PAs). Although, that said, in 467 PAs all over the line-up (most as a 7 or 9 hitter) he has a .370 OBP (if my math is correct). So maybe he’ll be cool?

  2. contraryguy - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    People not familiar with Hanny have to take into account his effectiveness against baserunners. Best caught stealing % in NL last two years.

    • thomas844 - Dec 3, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      People were too busy drooling over Yadi 24/7 to see that Hanigan has also been one of the elite defensive catchers in the NL.

  3. steve7921 - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Why sign Molina at 38 to a 2 yr contract for $4.5 million? His offensive and defensive numbers are horrible. Sign Molina just because he can frame a pitch and call a good game. (myth in my opinion as the pitchers era’s were generally lower with Lobaton)

    This trade makes no sense for a small market team that cannot “waste” dollars, why resign Molina when you could have a tandem of Lobaton and Hannigan?

    Oh Freidman, I question you now but I am sure will praise you next September and October…I hope.

    • kruegere - Dec 3, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      Molina can frame a pitch with the best of them.

  4. jm91rs - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Best of luck to Ryan Hanigan. He’s a very good defensive catcher, and offensively until this year (he had quite a few injuries this year) was pretty serviceable as well. I’ll caution though that it seems like he’s been a bit of a platoon type catcher for awhile now, so I hope they plan on giving Molina the start every 3rd day or so.

  5. felser - Dec 3, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    To me, the trade makes no sense for the D’Backs unless the Rays are picking up a lot of Bell’s salary, which I can’t imagine. D’Backs trade bell and a better prospect (Holmberg) for a lesser prospect (Choate) from what I see, unless we are missing pieces.

    • gbrim - Dec 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      DBacks only picking up 500k of Bell’s salary. Tower’s biggest self-inflicted wound of 2013 is now gone.

      • felser - Dec 3, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        Makes sense for Dbacks then, but I’m stunned that Rays would spend that money.

      • purpleronin - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:03 AM

        I think the Marlins are still paying a large chunck of Bell’s salary from when he was traded to the D’backs, although i’m not entirely sure of that.

  6. phillysports1 - Dec 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Agree %100 with Steve ^ lol… I know Tampa has a few hispanic speaking relievers . Maybe that’s why they holding on to him .. Idk

  7. jpthereafter - Dec 3, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Well its the Rays and Joe Maddon, so odds are you might see Hanigan in center field or even better platooning as 3rd base coach.

  8. JuniorGriffey'sRecliner - Dec 3, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Hanigan is a fantastic catcher. He’s very intelligent and well read, and he handles pitchers phenomenally.

    He caught both of Homer Bailey’s no hitters.

    Congrats, Tampa Bay. You’ve got a good one. I fully expect him to bounce back at the plate next season.

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