|In their annual quest to build an effective bullpen on the cheap, the Rays picked up a potential useful piece in a trade with the Marlins. Tampa Bay acquired righthander Burke Badenhop, arbitration-eligible for the first time, from Miami for Double-A catcher Jake Jefferies, a 2008 third-rounder whose bat has underwhelmed in pro ball.
With a strong bullpen intact and Badenhop due a raise in arbitration, the Marlins felt they could part with the potential non-tender candidate. They traded backup catcher John Baker to the Padres earlier in the offseason in a transaction motivated by similar circumstances.
If used in lower-leverage spots, Badenhop could prove to be an effective under-the-radar pickup in the mold of former Rays reliever Lance Cormier. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Badenhop is a physical, durable righty who induces plenty of groundballs (59 percent of balls in play last year) with a heavy reliance on a high-80s sinker. He has shown dramatic platoon splits throughout his career, so he needs to be shielded from lefthanded batters whenever possible. Lefties have compiled a .759 OPS versus Badenhop in his career, though righties have hit just .265/.304/.364 in 585 plate appearances. His value receives a boost now that he’s paired with Tampa Bay’s strong defensive infield.
Age: 24. Position: C (24 G), 1B (1 G).
Born: Oct. 30, 1987 in Merced, Calif.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Bats: L. Throws: R.
School: UC Davis.
Career Transactions: Selected by Rays in third round of 2008 draft; signed June 13, 2008.
While lauded as a bat-first catcher coming out of UC Davis in our 2008 draft preview, Jefferies has seen his progress slow to a halt. After a strong pro debut in the New York-Penn League, he spent the majority of the next three seasons mired in Class A ball. As a 23-year old repeating the Florida State League in 2011, Jefferies struggled with a .614 OPS while spending more time at DH than at catcher. Jefferies will provide organizational catching depth for Miami.
Age: 28. Remaining Commitment: Arbitration eligible for the 2012-2014 seasons ($750,000 salary in 2011).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.