ST. PETERSBURG — It's not that the Rays didn't value the dazzling work that rookie lefty reliever Alex Torres did for them last year. "Phenomenal," was the word executive vice president Andrew Friedman used.
But in trying to fill another hole — specifically for a versatile right-handed-hitting reserve — and feed their never-ending quest to stockpile young pitching, the Rays felt they had enough bullpen depth to trade Torres to San Diego on Wednesday in a seven-player deal.
The primary immediate return is Logan Forsythe, a 27-year-old who can play the middle infield and outfield corners and now joins Sean Rodriguez as key platoon starters and in-game subs at Joe Maddon's disposal.
"As the calendar turned into January we started really focusing on areas of weakness, places that we wanted to be aggressive to augment," Friedman said. "Logan Forsythe is a guy that we had tried to get previously and a guy that was very high on our target list. From our standpoint, we dealt from an area of depth to address an area of weakness."
After also including pitching prospect Jesse Hahn in the deal, the Rays got four other players back: right-handed pitchers Brad Boxberger, Matt Andriese and Matt Lollis, plus infielder Maxx Tissenbaum.
"To us, you've got to give up something to get something," Friedman said. "We gave up two arms that we liked a lot to get a number of players we feel like fit us really well."
The Rays think highly of Forsythe, 27, confident that injuries, which have cut short his past four seasons, have kept him from blossoming. He hit .214 with a .281 on-base percentage last season while limited by plantar fasciitis issues that he says are now resolved after rest and an injection, .273/.343 the year before.
"We see a lot of upside in his skill set on both sides of the ball," Friedman said. "We feel like he fits us really well."
Forsythe said he was surprised to be dealt but has heard good things about the Rays and felt "a nervous excitement" about joining them.
Boxberger, 25, has split the past two seasons between Triple-A Tucson and the Padres bullpen, where he was 0-1 with one save and a 2.72 ERA in 42 games. Friedman raved of his strikeout ability (354 in 254 minor-league innings, 57 in 49⅔ in the majors) and said he "has the potential to be a high-leverage full-inning reliever" who can handle right- and left-handers.
Andriese (AND-reese), 24, could become a key part of the deal, a 2011 third-round pick who, in Friedman's words, "had kind of rocketed" through the minors, going 8-2, 2.37 in 15 starts at Double-A San Antonio, then 3-5, 4.45 in 12 games at Tucson. "He's got a chance, he should be a starting pitcher for us," Friedman said.
Lollis, 23, is a hard-throwing 6-foot-9, 250-pounder who hasn't shown much in five minor-league seasons, but Friedman said has "really interesting ingredients." Tissenbaum, 22, hit .277 in A ball.
Torres, 26, was stunned to wake up at his Venezuela home to Twitter reports that he had been dealt. "I'm surprised," he said. "It's unbelievable. But it's a business, and that's how it is. We know where we are today, we don't know where we will be tomorrow."
Though Torres had an overall sensational breakthrough season, going 4-2, 1.71 in 39 games, there might have been concern about regression as some key numbers (such as batting average and on-base plus-slugging allowed) worsened each month. The Rays have lefties Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos returning to their bullpen, added Pedro Figueroa (who is out of options), and have C.J. Riefenhauser and Jeff Beliveau at Triple A, plus, Friedman said, "a host of other guys we feel like have a chance."
Hahn, 24, had an impressive 2013 season at Class A Charlotte and was added to the 40-man roster but remained on a limited workload after his 2010 Tommy John surgery.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.