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The Heath Bell and David Holmberg trade: an overview

In decades to come, we'll look back and ask each other, "Where were you when you heard Heath Bell had been traded?" In my case, it was watching a spaghetti war flick called "Churchill's Leopards."

Norm Hall

Let's start by reviewing the full details of the trade, because as usual with three-way deals, it's more than a little confusing.

  • Diamondbacks: Get Justin Choate + player to be named later (or cash), both from Rays
    Give up Heath Bell + $500 K to Rays and David Holmberg to Reds.
  • Reds: Get Holmberg from the D-backs
    Give up Ryan Hanningan to the Rays
  • Rays: Get Bell and $500K from the D-backs, catcher Hannigan from the Reds
    Give up: Choate + player to be named later (or cash) to the D-backs

I hope that has cleared things up for everyone. From the D-backs point of view, the main things this does is free up about $5.5 million in payroll for this year, and one imagines this can now be used to fund the acquisition of a power outfielder with some pop or a starting pitcher, the two areas which Kevin Towers has made clear he feels are in most need of improvement. Bell arrived in Arizona in October 20th last year, part of another three-way deal with the other Florida team. That one saw Chris Young go to Oakland and Cliff Pennington come to Arizona, but I think this new deal tacitly admits the Heath Bell Experience wasn't what we wanted.

I guess we can pretty much now put a value on Holmberg: about $5 million: It's presumably coincidence that the move comes less than 24 hours after we non-tendered Daniel Hudson, meaning that both players received in the July 2010 deal with the White Sox for Edwin Jackson, are no longer with the Diamondbacks. Holmberg had a solid season at Double-A Mobile, putting up a 2.75 ERA over 26 starts, though hus K-rate did drop significantly at the new level. He made one start for the Diamondbacks: it didn't go well, and I just hope the deal works out better for us than the last guy to be one and done in our rotation.

As for what we received. The 22-year-old right-handed Choate signed with the Rays as a Minor League free agent in June 24 after pitching with the Roswell Invaders of the independent Pecos League. Choate pitched collegiately at his native Texarkana College from 2010-11 and Stephen F. Austin State University from 2012-13, and was 1-3 with six saves, a 2.88 ERA and 35:9 K:BB ratio in 40.2 IP, over 16 relief appearances with Short-Season A Hudson Valley. Beyond that... Yeah, there's not much to be found online, in part because there's a Justin Choate who is on some reality show called Swamp People. I don't think it's the same one. :) Our Justin is on the Twitter, however.

There's also the player to be named later, who could also turn into a suitcase containing an indeterminate amount of money. Which probably gives you an idea that he's not going to be anything particularly special. That's also suggested because, according to Nick Piecoro, players eligible to be picked in the Rule 5 draft next week can't be traded - which makes kinda sense, if you think about it. But if the player was any good, he'd have been protected by the Rays and on their 40-man roster. Since that apparently hasn't happened, presumably there's a list of possible players we'll get, and we get to pick from whatever's left after the draft.

As was already suggested in the comments thread of Clefo's news post, I also tend to think that this is the first move, rather than an end in itself - pleased though Mrs. SnakePit was when I told her at lunchtime that she wouldn't have to undergo the Heath Bell Experience again. It certainly does not appear that the D-backs do have enough salary payroll room for at least one significant addition to their 2014 roster. Going by Towers' previous comments, probably not a free-agent, so we're going to keep the Trade Alert Threat Level at Orange for the time being.