The Tampa Bay Rays have completed a three-team trade with the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks, acquiring catcher Ryan Hanigan from Cincinnati and right-handed relief pitcher Heath Bell from Arizona. The Rays send minor league right-handed pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named to Arizona, and the Diamondbacks send left-handed pitcher David Holmberg to Cincinnati. The Rays also receive cash considerations from Arizona.
The Rays and Hanigan agreed to a three-year contract extension covering the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, with a club option for 2017, worth a guaranteed $10.75 million. In addition, Hanigan will make a donation to the Rays Baseball Foundation.
Hanigan, 33, had spent the duration of his seven-year major league career with the Reds (2007-13). The right-handed hitter owns a career .262 batting average and .359 on-base percentage, with more walks (189) than strikeouts (159). He has made three trips to the postseason, including the 2013 National League Wild Card Game. Limited by two stints on the disabled list in 2013, he batted a career-low .198 (44-for-222) with two home runs, 21 RBI, 29 walks and a .306 on-base percentage in 75 games. A strained left oblique sidelined him for 2-1/2 weeks (April 21–May 9) and a sprained left wrist for nearly a month (July 11–August 8).
In 2013, Hanigan caught 40 percent of attempted base stealers (12 of 30), third highest among all major league catchers with at least 50 games played behind Yadier Molina (42.2) and A.J. Ellis (40.7). In 2012, he gunned down 43.3 percent (26 of 60), second to Molina (45.7). Hanigan has caught two no-hitters, both by Homer Bailey, in 2012 and 2013. The Andover, Mass., native attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and has spent more seasons in the majors than all but one Rollins alum: catcher Zack Taylor (16 seasons from 1920-35).
Bell, 36, has recorded 168 career saves over 10 major league seasons with the New York Mets (2004-06), San Diego Padres (2007-11), Miami Marlins (2012) and D-backs (2013). His 166 saves over the past five seasons (2009-13) rank third in the majors after Jonathan Papelbon (173) and Mariano Rivera (170). He is one of two pitchers in the majors, along with lefthander Matt Thornton, to appear in 60 or more games in each of the last seven seasons. From 2009-11 with the Padres, Bell led the major leagues with 132 saves and was named to the National League All-Star Team in three consecutive seasons. He owns a career 3.39 ERA and has 625 strikeouts in 611.1 innings pitched.
In 2013, Bell went 5-2 with 15 saves and a 4.11 ERA (65.2-IP, 30-ER) in 69 games for Arizona. He recorded 72 strikeouts and only 16 walks, establishing a career-best 2.19 walks per nine innings. Bell posted a 1.96 ERA (36.2-IP, 8-ER) away from Chase Field. He also pitched for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, his second time taking part in the tournament (2009).
This is the third three-team trade in Rays history, the first in a decade and the first under Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. The last such deal occurred on December 14, 2003, when the Rays dealt left-handed pitcher Joe Kennedy to the Colorado Rockies and acquired lefthander Mark Hendrickson from the Toronto Blue Jays. The other occurred on January 8, 2001, when the Rays sent right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez to the Kansas City Royals and righthander Cory Lidle to the Oakland Athletics and received outfielder Ben Grieve from Oakland.