TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels turned an out-of-options utility infielder into some much-needed starting-pitching depth on Friday, when Andrew Romine was flipped to the Tigers for 24-year-old left-hander Jose Alvarez.
The Tigers were in desperate need of infield coverage now that shortstop Jose Iglesias may miss the entire season with a stress fracture in both legs, and the Angels essentially had no place for Romine now that veteran infielder John McDonald -- obtained on a Minor League contract -- has emerged as the favorite to be the utility infielder.
Alvarez, who has two option years left, compiled 38 2/3 innings and a 5.82 ERA in his Major League debut last season, and had a nice season for Triple-A Toledo, with a 2.80 ERA in 21 games (20 starts). He's listed at 5-foot-11, throws his fastball in the low 90's, features a solid changeup and hails from Venezuela.
On the Angels, Alvarez will either be a Minor League starter -- joining Wade LeBlanc and Matt Shoemaker as additional depth -- or a swingman in their Major League bullpen.
"Whether it's the 12th or 13th man on a staff, whether it's the sixth starter who has the ability to step in when we need that next guy," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "The combination of Jose Alvarez, with Matt Shoemaker, with Wade LeBlanc, we feel like just gives us more depth than we had yesterday."
Romine was taking ground balls on Friday morning when all of a sudden he saw Dipoto running onto the field and wondered what was going on. He got called into Mike Scioscia's office, was informed he had just been traded for the first time, said his goodbyes at the Tempe Diablo Stadium clubhouse and told reporters he's "pumped."
"It's a great team," Romine said. "You can't argue that. They're going to be going for a world championship every year."
Romine played at Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., against the likes of Hank Conger, Mark Trumbo and Grant Green. He was drafted by the Angels in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and appeared in a career-high 47 games down the stretch last season, batting .259/.308/.287.
But he was well aware of his situation heading into Spring Training -- out of options, with a more seasoned player in McDonald competing against him.
"I really tried to just put it to the side and just go out and play so I don't worry about anything while I was on the field, but it comes up," Romine said.
"There are pros and cons to everything. Obviously, I'm going to miss the guys. I love these guys. I came up and played high-school ball with a lot of these guys, and this is the only place that I've been. So, obviously, I'm going to miss everybody, and I thank them for the opportunity they gave me here. Hopefully, I'll see them out on the field."
Romine -- primarily a left-handed hitter who has gone back-and-forth with switch-hitting -- has good speed and is solid defensively at shortstop, second and third base, but doesn't have a lot of pop. Over the offseason, he gained an additional 20 pounds of muscle to improve his offense, and though he batted only .207 in Cactus League play (6-for-29), he's expected to compete with Danny Worth and Hernan Perez for playing time at shortstop in Detroit.
Romine got a ringing endorsement from Omar Vizquel, the former Angels roving infield instructor who's now the Tigers' first-base coach.
"We talked about having a shortstop that can catch the ball and run a little bit. He fits that description," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said of Romine. "How we play him with the other guys we have, I'm really not sure at this point. We look for him to be on our big league club. He'll be part of that mix."
Alvarez was signed as an amateur free agent by the Red Sox in 2005, was traded to the Marlins in exchange for Jeremy Hermida in '09, was granted free agency at the end of a down 2012 season, spent last year in Detroit and put himself on the Angels' radar last June 26, by giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"The first time through our lineup," Dipoto said, "he looked every bit a Major League starter."
Alvarez has started 131 of his 175 career Minor League games, with a 3.50 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, 2.2 walks per nine innings and a strikeout rate of 7.2.
"He has been young for every level and has performed very consistently for the most part throughout the course of his career," said Dipoto, who expects Alvarez to arrive by Saturday night and debut on Monday or Tuesday. "A Minor league lefty who is 24 with a 3.50 career ERA who throws strikes and has some history of missing bats is a good combination of events for us."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.