Catcher headed to Rays; Cincinnati lands lefty prospect Holmberg from D-backs
CINCINNATI -- Veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan was dealt from the Reds to the Rays as part of a three-way trade on Tuesday that also included the D-backs.
Cincinnati received left-handed starting pitcher David Holmberg from Arizona in the transaction. Reliever Heath Bell is headed from the D-backs to Tampa Bay and Minor League left-handed pitcher Justin Choate is going from the Rays to the D-backs along with a player to be named.
Hanigan was also signed to a three-year, $10.75 million contract by Tampa Bay. He would have been a free agent after the 2014 season.
Hanigan, 33, became expendable when the Reds signed free-agent catcher Brayan Pena to a two-year, $2.275 million contract early last month. The Reds also have Devin Mesoraco, who seems likely to become the primary catcher.
Prospect acquired by Reds
David Holmberg, LHP: Originally drafted in the second round in 2009 by the White Sox, Holmberg has now been traded twice in his career (the White Sox sent him and Daniel Hudson to the D-backs at the Trade Deadline in 2010). Holmberg spent much of the last two years at Double-A Mobile and made his Major League debut in August 2013. He posted a 2.75 ERA and a 116-50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 157 1/3 innings at Mobile this season. Holmberg commands all four of his pitches well and isn't afraid to attack hitters. His fastball sits in the low-90s with good sinking action. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch and both his slider and changeup are average offerings. Holmberg has a good feel for pitching and with his combination of stuff and polish, he could soon reach his profile as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
"This gives Mesoraco the opportunity to develop into a No. 1, frontline catcher that we think he can be," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "Pena will be a quality backup and good bat off of the bench. It gives Devin the chance for more playing time."
The Reds' 40-man roster now stands at 39 players, including the signing of free agent reliever Manny Parra, who agreed to terms on a two-year, $5.5 million contract last week.
Holmberg, 22, has spent most of the last two seasons at Double-A Mobile, where he was 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts this season. In 157 1/3 innings, he allowed 138 hits and 50 walks while striking out 116.
In the lone Major League appearance of his career, on Aug. 27 vs. the Padres, Holmberg pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs, six hits and three walks. He was ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the D-backs' system by MLB.com.
Originally a second-round pick of the White Sox in the 2009 Draft, Holmberg was traded, along with pitcher Daniel Hudson, to Arizona for pitcher Edwin Jackson on July 30, 2010.
"Our goal was to try and improve our pitching depth and trying to find the best young starting pitcher we could add to the organization," Jocketty said. "I have to be honest with you that Holmberg was one of the guys we had at the top of the list. It was a measuring point for other clubs we talked to. This was the best deal we thought we could make. We're very happy with him."
Jocketty began exploring deals to move Hanigan during last month's General Managers Meetings.
"We weren't really satisfied with some of the matchups with other clubs," Jocketty said. "I talked to [D-backs GM] Kevin Towers, who said, 'I might be able to match up with another club and work a three-way deal with Hanigan.' That's what transpired."
The trade with the Rays was worked out a couple of days ago with a window left open for Hanigan's agent to work out an extension with his new team.
"I wasn't sure what the Reds were going to do, then when they signed Brayan, I kind of felt like they were going in a different direction," said Hanigan. "But I understood what they were doing and after that happened, I kind of just took it in stride and developed a relationship with [the Rays] when I was allowed and got to know these guys on a fairly quick basis."
Respected for his defensive and game-calling skills and his ability to get on base as a patient hitter, Hanigan still endured the worst offensive season of his career in 2013.
Limited to 75 games, Hanigan batted .198 with a .306 on-base percentage with two homers and 21 RBIs. Injuries nagged throughout the year that included two stints on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique and a sprained left wrist.
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002, Hanigan reached the big leagues in 2007. He is a career .262 hitter with a .359 on-base percentage.
Behind the plate, Hanigan worked with a rotation that had four starters throw 200 innings in 2012 and had a Major League best 3.04 catcher's ERA. His caught stealing percentages -- 48 percent in '12 and 45 percent in '13 -- were both best in the league.
This season, Hanigan caught three of the Reds' five complete games and 10 of the staff's 17 shutouts.
"It was tough to trade Hanigan," Jocketty said. "It got to the point where we had one year before he became a free agent. Sometimes, you have to make some tough business decisions you don't like to make. Hani did terrific job for this organization. Everybody really likes him as a person, as well as a player. We also tried to keep in mind places where he might want to play. I know Tampa was an area. They had interest in him for a couple of years. Hopefully this works out well for him."