Rays finalize deal to send Iwamura to Pirates for reliever Chavez
UPDATE, 7:43: Rays exec VP Andrew Friedman said "it is hard to put into words what Aki has meant to the organization" and that the Pirates "were all over us for about a month" about getting him. Chavez, Friedman said, "has real upside. This year was a good year we feel he has the tools and abilities to have an even better year.''
UPDATE, 7:00: Rays make it official, trading Iwamura to Pirates for Chavez. Added bonus, Rays save the $550,000 buyout they would have had to pay Iwamura for declining his option.
UPDATE, 6:06: The Rays will get back righthanded reliever Jesse Chavez, a 26- year-old who was 1-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 73 appearances for the Pirates last season. Chavez was drafted by Texas and traded to the Pirates in July 2006 for Kip Wells. His inclusion in the deal was first reported by ESPN's Buster Olney. Overall, Chavez has pitched in 88 big-league games and has a 1-5, 4.48 mark.
UPDATE, 4:16: The team the Rays are dealing Iwamura to is the Pirates.
Still working on what they are going to get back, but the Pirates do have some young arms and some young catching. Will be interesting to see if the Rays are paying any money to upgrade the quality of the return - that's what they did in the Aubrey Huff deal, and that Ben Zobrist guy turned out okay. Expect an official announcement tonight, when it will be Wednesday morning in Japan and the Rays can talk to Aki.
DEVELOPING: Just got back to New York and heard from an industry source who's not with the Rays that they are on the verge of completing a trade of 2B Akinori Iwamura.
The Rays were looking to do some kind of deal since they weren't planning to pick up the $4.85-million option to bring him back. What's interesting is that the source indicated the deal wasn't with the Cubs or the Dodgers as has been speculated on but to an unexpected team. Hmmm.
The Rays are operating under something of a deadline since they have until one day after the end of the World Series to either pick up the option or pay a $550,000 buyout and allow Iwamura to become a free agent. They have been working on essentially a sign-and-trade deal, where they would get something back for him. It would probably be too big of a gamble for them to pick up the option without having a deal in place.
Iwamura hit .281 in three seasons with the Rays after coming over from Japan, playing third in 2007 and second the last two seasons. He sustained what was considered a season-ending knee injury in May of this year, but made an unexpected recover and rejoined the team for the final month, playing 69 games total. He has a career .354 on-base percentage.
Iwamura, 30, indicated a preference to stay with the Rays, but they are talking about using either Ben Zobrist or Sean Rodriguez, or a combination of the two, at second next season.