6:41PM: The two teams have officially announced the trade. Jefry Rodriguez will move to the Indians’ 60-day injured list to create roster space. The Rays will get $250K in international bonus funds, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets.
5:16PM: The Indians have acquired right-hander Hunter Wood and infielder Christian Arroyo from the Rays in exchange for minor league outfielder Ruben Cardenas and some international signing money. Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown (Twitter link) was the first to report that Wood was being dealt to Cleveland, while Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) added the other particulars of the swap.
Wood, who turns 26 next month, has a 2.48 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 3.43 K/BB rate over 29 innings for the Rays this season. ERA predictors such as FIP (4.19), xFIP (5.10) and SIERA (4.52) are much less impressed with Wood’s work, perhaps due to his lack of strikeouts and large amount of fly balls generated, as Wood has only a 29.4% grounder rate. On the plus side, Wood is allowing less hard contract and issuing fewer walks than he did in his 2018 rookie season. While not a premium reliever, he’ll add even more depth to a Tribe bullpen that is already one of the game’s best.
As a young arm controlled through the 2024 season, Wood isn’t an insubstantial piece for the Rays to be giving up, particularly to a Cleveland team who is currently battling Tampa for a wild card position. Still, the Rays had to open up a 40-man roster spot for the newly-acquired Eric Sogard, and Wood wasn’t a critical member of the relief corps. The righty was one of several members of the Tampa-to-Durham taxi squad over the last two seasons, as the Rays frequently shuffled pitchers back and forth between the majors and Triple-A.
Sogard’s arrival makes Arroyo even more expendable, as Arroyo already wasn’t going to be a factor for Tampa until mid-August due to a 60-day injured list placement due to forearm tendinitis. It wasn’t long ago that Arroyo was ranked as one of the more highly-touted prospects in the sport — MLB.com ranked Arroyo within their top-90 prospect list every year from 2016-18, topping out at 81st prior to the 2018 season.
Originally drafted 25th overall by the Giants in 2013, Arroyo was the centerpiece of the prospect package sent from San Francisco to Tampa in the 2017-18 offseason for Evan Longoria. Unfortunately for Arroyo and the Rays, his two seasons at Tropicana Field have been plagued with injuries, and he has appeared in just 16 games in a Rays uniform. Arroyo is still only 24, and with only 251 career MLB plate appearances to go on, there’s still plenty of time for him to realize his potential.
Arroyo has played mostly second and third base in recent seasons after beginning his pro career as a shortstop, so the Indians have some flexibility in how they choose to deploy Arroyo at the big league level. It could be that the Tribe simply uses Arroyo as a multi-position player, or they could direct him more specifically towards second base (if Jason Kipnis’ club option isn’t exercised for 2020, as expected), third base (if Jose Ramirez is moved back to second base to replace Kipnis) or potentially even shortstop, if Cleveland explores the big splash that would be a Francisco Lindor trade in the offseason.
Cardenas was a 16th-round pick for the Tribe in the 2018 draft. The Cal State Fullerton product wasn’t ranked by MLB.com as a top-30 prospect in Cleveland’s system, though Cardenas is off to a nice start in his pro career, hitting .292/.366/.469 with 10 homers over 524 plate appearances. He has spent all of this season at the Indians’ A-ball affiliate in Lake County.