Pirates trade Jesse Chavez to Rays for Akinori Iwamura

The Pirates have reportedly acquired second baseman Akinori Iwamura from the Tampa Rays for reliever Jesse Chavez. Dejan Kovacevic is reporting that the Pirates may also receive a second player in the deal.

Iwamura is an average player that had his 2009 season shortened by injury. He should be a useful option at second, one that leaves me with more confidence than Delwyn Young. He has been right around average both offensively and defensively for the Rays. The Pirates will have him for one season at $4.25 million.

Chavez had a promising start to the 2009 season, but faded badly down the stretch. His talent had me cautiously optimistic for the future, but he has essentially been a replacement level reliever. Despite a solid 4.01 ERA, he had a below-average FIP of 4.85 and an even worse tRA of 5.48 (5.04 when adjusted to match the ERA-scale).

At this point, I naturally tend to hate any trade that sends out a young player with upside in exchange for an older stopgap. However, it is difficult to get too upset about losing a player whose greatest upside is a good reliever. Even the best relievers are only worth a couple wins over the course of a season. I liked Chavez, but building a bullpen is one of the easier tasks for a major league general manager. I definitely prefer to lose Chavez over any prospect right now. Iwamura should help bridge the gap to some of the Pirates’ middle infield prospects, such as Chase D’Arnaud, Jordy Mercer and Jarek Cunningham.

It is important not to overlook the additional player that may be included in this deal. The Rays have a deep farm system, so the Pirates could potentially pick up a somewhat useful prospect.

Keep an eye on the Twitter feed for additional updates.

UPDATE (7:00 PM): One of the first things I thought after seeing the Iwamura rumors was how similar he is (win value-wise) to Freddy Sanchez. Thus, the Pirates essentially traded Jesse Chavez for Tim Alderson, an additional Rays player and $3.75 million. Not bad at all.

UPDATE (7:10 PM): Jen Langosch reports that the deal is Chavez for Iwamura, straight up. No other players included. Dejan confirms this.

UPDATE (7:44 PM): Iwamura will likely hit second in the lineup, according to Neal Huntington.

UPDATE (9:10 PM): One thing I neglected to note earlier is the clear difference between the AL East and the NL Central. The AL East contained the three top teams in baseball, and four of the top six. The top NL Central team was ranked 14th. Look for Iwamura’s stats to receive a bit of a boost, just from the change in division. With the same line of thinking, Chavez might just get destroyed in the AL East next year.

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