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Big League Stew

Rays acquire Heath Bell and Ryan Hanigan in three-way trade with D-backs, Reds

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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Ryan Hanigan and Heath Bell are joining the Tampa Bay Rays. (Getty Images)

The past two days in baseball have given us a few trades, plus a rush to lock up relief pitchers and catchers. Then came a three-team deal Tuesday involving the Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks that had all three of those things in one.

The Rays added catcher Ryan Hanigan and potential closer Heath Bell, while the Reds and D-backs traded spare parts for prospects and contract relief. The deal was first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

The hot stove is hot right now, folks. Let's break this thing down:

• The Rays are acquiring the most needed-right-now pieces of this deal, getting Bell from the D-backs and Hanigan from the Reds. Bell looks like he'll get a chance to close to the Rays, since Fernando Rodney is a free agent. Bell closed a bit in 2013 for the D-backs, collecting 15 saves but was a setup man by season's end. He notched 132 saves for the San Diego Padres between 2009 and 2011, but his ERA skyrocketed in 2012 and 2013 — 5.09 in '12 and 4.11 last season.

• Hanigan was expendable in Cincinnati after the Reds signed Brayan Pena last month. Hanigan is more valuable behind the plate than he is with a bat. He's known for framing pitches well, throwing out base-stealers and leading a pitching staff. As people are saying, skipper Joe Maddon is going to love him. Hanigan had a particularly down year offensively in 2013, hitting .198/.306/.261. He is, however, a career .262/.359/.343 hitter. He's expected to start for the Rays, who also have Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton at catcher. Molina just re-signed with the Rays, leaving Lobaton as the odd man out. One rumor has him on his way to the Chicago White Sox.

• The Reds gets David Holmberg, a 22-year-old who has pitched in exactly one big league game for the D-backs. He spent most of 2013 in Double-A, where he had a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts. Holmberg was profiled last season by D-backs beat writer Nick Piecoro, who wrote the young pitcher didn't have amazing stuff, but he carried himself like a veteran pitcher.

• The D-backs are adding Justin Choate, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher who played short season Single-A ball for the Rays in 2013. He finished his college baseball career earlier in the year at Stephen F. Austin, then was signed as a free-agent by Tampa Bay. He had a 2.88 ERA in 16 relief appearances. The D-backs are also getting a player to be named later or cash considerations in the deal. Arizona will save $5.5 million by trading Bell (they'll pay part of his $9 million salary), so they might be back in the market for relief pitching soon.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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