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MLB Roundup 12/30: Rays trade José Alvarado to the Phillies

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Another day, another Rays trade.

League Championship - Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros - Game Four Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Rays trade José Alvarado to the Phillies

Just a few days after sending Blake Snell out west to the Padres in a blockbuster deal, the Rays have dealt another player off their major-league roster. This one is not quite as egregious, though, as they are sending left-handed reliever José Alvarado the Phillies as part of a three-team deal that also includes the Dodgers. Philadelphia gets Alvarado, Tampa Bay gets Dodgers minor-league first baseman Dillon Paulson as well as a player to be named later or cash, and the Dodgers get Phillies left-handed pitcher Garrett Cleavinger.

The Alvarado portion of this is the most interesting, with Paulson being a former third round pick who has hit decently well so far in his pro career and has made it up to High-A, while Cleavinger is another former third rounder who made his major-league debut in 2020 with one appearance, but otherwise has not pitched above Double-A. For the Phillies, though, they get a big upside arm to add to a bullpen that was historically bad last season. You may remember that unit being essentially single-handedly responsible for that team missing the postseason. Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree were both major contributors to those issues in the second half as well. In Alvardo, they get the big upside, though there are control and shoulder issues here as well so it’s far from a slam dunk.

On the Rays side of things, while Alvarado is probably talented enough that a contender should want to keep him, Tampa had other fish to fry. They needed to clear a 40-man spot to complete the Snell deal, and this did just that. Plus, the Rays have shown an ability to materialize relievers out of the ether on a monthly basis, so dealing from this area from the roster is far from egregious. There may be some salary reasoning here with Alvarado reaching arbitration, but I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

As for the Red Sox, I wonder if they were involved at all in trying to get the lefty. There are issues, as I’ve stated, but I’m not sure how picky the Red Sox can be with pitching at this point. The upside is hard to match, with Alvarado having struck out over 11 batters per nine innings in each of the last three seasons. That said, I’m relatively high on Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor in this unit, and so I’m not sure I’d be targeting another lefty if I could help it.

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Twins sign Hansel Robles

In other reliever news, the Twins added to their bullpen by signing right-handed reliever Hansel Robles to a one-year deal worth $2 million. This is the kind of deal that flies under the radar this time of year, but could pay big dividends for the team as the 2021 season goes on. Robles has spent most of his career with the Mets, having a bit of a home run problem that came up at some inopportune times, but for the most part being a solid setup man in New York.

More recently, the righty has been out west pitching in the Angels bullpen, where he landed at the 2018 trade deadline. The 30-year-old was having a tough first half of that season, but turned things around in a big way down the stretch for L.A. He only continued to thrive in 2019, eventually taking over the Angels closer role and finishing the year with a 2.48 ERA. However, the shortened 2020 season did not agree with him, as Robles finished with an ERA over 10.00 in 18 appearances.

The Twins are betting that 2020 was the fluke and that they can get something approximating the 2019 version of Robles for a bargain of a price. At $2 million, it’s hard to argue with the risk. In fact, Robles was a pitcher I would have liked to see the Red Sox target. As I’ve already said about numerous other players this offseason, in isolation letting Robles go elsewhere isn’t a huge deal because there are plenty of other options. On the other hand, the more times I say it the less it is true. We’re not at a panic point yet by any stretch, but it’d be nice to see a bullpen addition if for no other reason than my sanity.