May 1, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman talks to the media after signing designator hitter Hideki Matsui (not pictured) to a minor league contract at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On The Surface, Trading Alex Torres Made Little Sense for the Rays


Oct 8, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA;  Ex-Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Alex Torres (54) throws a pitch during the fifth inning of game four of the American League divisional series against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. He will now spend his Octobers with extra time off in San Diego. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In case you are the type of Rays fan who only pays attention in October (there are quite a few of you out there!), you may have missed the most recent move by the Tampa Bay ball club.

In a move that sent the Twitter world on fire within the tri-county area, the Rays sent reliever Alex Torres and pitching prospect Jesse Hahn to the San Diego Padres in part of a seven-player deal.

In 39 relief appearances last year, Torres, 26, posted a 1.71 ERA over 58 innings. One might wonder what the Rays were thinking.

Vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman explained that the Rays dealt from an “area of depth to address an area of weakness.” This makes a lot of sense considering Friedman recently mentioning on 620 WDAE’s Ron and Ian show, that the bullpen is “the thing that keeps him up nights.”

Don’t worry, the confusion is there for me too.

From everything we witnessed through the 2013 season, Torres was the only consistently reliable arm out of the pen. Sure Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and even the Dominican Robin Hood had their moments, but Torres was on another level.

As for the reinforcements that the Rays have brought in to sure up the bullpen; think Heath Bell and  Pedro Figueroa.

In 24 MLB appearances with Oakland, Figueroa, 28, has a 4.32 ERA with more walks than strikeouts. Meanwhile, Bell, 36, has aged nicely, posting consecutive seasons of an ERA north of 4.00 after dominating through much of five seasons in pitcher-friendly San Diego.

But hey, McGee may have developed a second pitch this offseason… In reality, six of the Rays top-10 prospects (according to MLB.com) are in fact pitchers. But gone are the days of top prospects running wild in the minors. The best player and arm on the farm, Taylor Guerrieri, ranks as just the 29th best prospect in baseball.

And what exactly is the area of weakness that was addressed?  Well, you may not have guessed the package’s centerpiece (along with four minor league prospects) is a utility player.

Especially considering the Rays currently have Ben Zobrist, Yunel EscobarSean Rodriguez in the fold, with Tim Beckham, Hak-Ju Lee, and Vince Belnome all slated to compete for the middle infield roster spots. The same positions that newly acquired Logan Forsythe usually occupies.

Perhaps it’s the ability of Forsythe to back up All-Star Evan Longoria that appeals to Friedman?

With a package that brought in only one pitcher who is big-league ready, righty Matt Andriese, one has to wonder.

On the bright side Forsythe, 27,  is good hitter against lefties (.290 career) and has a history of lower body injuries including a lingering plantar fascia injury to his right foot. However, Freidman believes Forsythe is a, “versatile infielder that provides really competitive at-bats.”

I’m sure Joe Maddon is already having dreams of how many lineups he can run out this season with Forsythe DH-ing in the one hole.

Tags: Alex Torres Andrew Friedman Heath Bell Logan Forsythe Popular Rays