Ryan Roberts was told that the move to designate him for assignment this afternoon was a prelude to a trade, and the deal got done tonight, as the versatile veteran is on his way to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league infielder Tyler Bortnick.
The Rays were looking for inexpensive infield help and got it here, as Roberts is due a bit less than $900,000 over the rest of the year. He’ll likely see plenty of action at third base until Evan Longoria returns before sliding into more of a utility role.
It will be interesting to see who gets dropped to make room for Roberts. Brooks Conrad is still the likely choice, but he hit a big two-run homer to help the Rays beat the Orioles 3-1 on Tuesday. Hideki Matsui has yet to contribute much of anything as an outfielder/designated hitter, so the Rays could drop him instead.
Bortnick, 25, was hitting .253/.352/.385 with four homers and 23 steals in 348 at-bats for Double-A Montgomery this season. He’s a long shot to make it as a utilityman in the majors. Mostly, the Diamondbacks were just happy to save some money here.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.