Rays trade 3 minor-league pitchers, get reliever Emilio Pagan, draft pick

Rays add to bullpen depth and draft pick as part of three-way deal with A's and Rangers.
The Rays acquired former Oakland relief pitcher Emilio Pagan  Friday in a three-team deal that included Texas. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
The Rays acquired former Oakland relief pitcher Emilio Pagan Friday in a three-team deal that included Texas. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Published Dec. 21, 2018|Updated Dec. 21, 2018

The Rays traded three minor-league pitchers, including 2018 top arm LHP Brock Burke, in a three-way deal with Oakland and Texas Friday that netted them RH reliever Emilio Pagan, the No. 38 pick in the draft and a minor-league pitcher in return.

The deal, announced shortly after noon after being first reported by Yahoo's Jeff Passan, has the Rays sending out Burke, LHP Kyle Bird and RHP Yoel Espinal. Both Bird, a reliever, and Burke had just been added to their 40-man roster. They needed to clear a spot to add RHP Charlie Morton, whose two-year, $30 million deal agreed to at the winter meetings had not yet been announced.

Pagan, 27, pitched in 55 games for the A's last season, posting a 4.35 ERA with a 3-1 record. Over 62 innings he allowed 55 hits (including 13 homers) and 19 walks while striking out 60.

The minor-leaguer coming to the Rays is RHP Rollie Lacy, a 23-year-old who pitched at Class A in 2018, moving from the Cubs to the Rangers as part of the Cole Hamels deal.

The 38th pick in the draft is obviously of some value to the Rays, who now will have four of the top 61 picks.

The rest of the trade has INF Jurickson Profar going from Texas to Oakland, and the Rangers getting Burke, Bird, Espinal, Eli White, and international signing pool money.

Burke, 22, was named the Rays minor-league pitcher of the year after moving from advanced Class A Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery, finishing 9-6, 3.08 overall with 158 strikeouts and drawing some comparisons along the way to LHP Blake Snell, the AL Cy Young award winner.

"Really kind of a late bloomer who this year really started to show, to fulfill a lot of the potential we'd seen in him every since we took him out of high school,'' Rays senior VP Chaim Bloom said when Burke was added to theee 40-man roster.

"His velocity jumped. His maturity took a step forward and that showed – he was the organization pitcher of thee year for a reason. We're really excited about his future; we feel there is more to come with him.''

Bird was considered potential help for the bullpen in 2019 after a solid season split between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, going 3-3, 2.39 in 43 games with 88 strikeouts over 75 1/3 innings.

Espinal, 26, is a reliever who split his season between Charlotte and Montgomery, going 3-4, 2.25 with 10 saves.

Here is what the Rays PR staff put out about their two additions:

Pagán, 27, has spent parts of two seasons in the majors with Oakland (2018) and the Seattle Mariners (2017), going 5-4 with a 3.85 ERA (112.1-IP, 48-ER), 119 strikeouts and only 27 walks in 89 appearances, all in relief. In 2018, he made the A's Opening Day roster and went 3-1 with a 4.35 ERA (62-IP, 30-ER) and .230 opponents' avg. in 55 relief apps over three stints in the majors. He held right-handed hitters to a .196 avg. (31-for-158), and in his career has limited them to a .193 avg. He was named to Oakland's roster for the AL Wild Card Game, but did not pitch. Over six minor league seasons, Pagán has compiled a 2.46 ERA (263.1-IP, 72-ER) with 316 strikeouts in 173 relief apps. He was selected by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2013 June Draft out of Belmont Abbey College (N.C.). He pitched for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Lacy, 23, was acquired by the Rangers last July from the Chicago Cubs as part of the return for veteran lefty Cole Hamels. Between three stops in Class-A in 2018, he went 6-4 with a 2.97 ERA (109-IP, 36-ER) and 121 strikeouts. He yielded 37 walks, only six home runs and held hitters to a .224 batting avg. (91-for-407). He was selected by the Cubs in the 11th round of the 2017 June Draft out of Creighton University.