Pirates-Rays Trade a Win-Win

November 3, 2009 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Akinori Iwamura

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays struck a deal today that will send secondbaseman Akinori Iwamura to the Pirates in exchange for right handed reliever Jesse Chavez.

The Rays had to pick up the $4.85M 2010 contract option on Aki or buy it out for $650K. The Rays are in desperate need to clear payroll due to a good number of their core players earning raises from last year’s salaries. When the Rays realized that Aki and his salary were expendable they looked for a trade partner and Pittsburgh was all over them.

The Pirates get a Gold Glove caliber secondbaseman with on-base skills and decent speed. He has a career major league OBP of .355 in his three years and that includes a very good .281 AVG. He has been worth 6.3 wins above replacement in his three years in the American League East and valued at $27.3M so his $4.85M contract will be a bargain. I wouldn’t rule out a season of .300/.360/.400 with great defense and double digit steals while playing in the NL Central.

Jesse Chavez has an explosive fastball/slider combo that has averaged 94.5 mph and 88.5 mph respectively. He has below average command and control and also throws a changeup that is below average. He has the tools to be a very good reliever but his .289 BABIP indicates that he may have been a bit lucky last year, although that could be attributed to the high number of homers he gave up (11 in 67.1 innings) and the Rays are hoping that is something that can be fixed by pitching coach Jim Hickey. Either way, with a league minimum salary and options to burn, he is well worth the risk for the Rays who need bullpen help.

The trade looks like a win for the Pirates but it was a necessary deal for the Rays. They have the best seconbaseman in the American League in Ben Zobrist and could not afford the salary of Aki. They did well by adding a player of value while saving the salary and/or the cost to buyout the option. This trade is a win-win for both teams.

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