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Indians Trade Velasquez For Reliever

February 19, 2009
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In a suprise move today, the Indians traded away 20-year old infielder Isaias Velasquez to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 30-year old right-handed reliever Juan Salas.

Velasquez was signed almost four years ago by the Indians at 16 years of age out of Panama, and just this past season played at short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley where he hit .281 with 1 HR, 18 RBI and a .711 OPS in 64 games. Velasquez has yet to play on a full season team, though likely would have been the starting second baseman for Single-A Lake County this year. The void at second base at Lake County could create an interesting camp battle this spring and may ultimately open the door for Jason Smit to get the regular everyday job at second in Lake County. For Velasquez's complete scouting report, click here.

Salas had been designated for assignment by the Rays on February 13. He spent nearly the entire 2008 season with Trilpe-A Durham and went 4-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 1 save in 28 appearances (44.2 IP, 32 H, 13 R/ER, 11 BB, 53 K, .201 BAA) out of the bullpen. He also made five appearances (6.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 4 BB, 8 K) with the Rays over twodifferent stints. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Devil Rays in 1998 as an infielder, Salas was converted to a relief pitcher in 2004 and owns a career Major League record of 1-1 with a 4.44 ERA (52.2 IP, 54 H, 31 R, 26ER, 24 BB, 42 K, .255 BAA) in 47 appearances. In 2007, he made 34 appearances with Tampa going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA (36.1 IP, 36 H, 19 R, 15 ER, 17 BB, 26 K, .248 BAA). In 2006, Salas participated in the Future's Game for the World Team and was named to Baseball America's All-Minor League Team as well as awarded's Minor League Reliever of the Year. In his career at the Minor League level he is 13-7 with a 2.54 ERA and 20 saves (187.2 IP, 134 H, 66 R, 53 ER, 77 BB, 223 K) in 135 appearances.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Salas, the Indians designated infielder Andy Marte for assignment. The Indians now have ten days to trade, release or outright Marte to the minors. If he goes unclaimed (a claiming team would need to put him on their 40-man roster) or a trade is not worked out for him, then he likely will remain an Indian and be outrighted to Columbus.

More on the trade tonight on Smoke Signals (see below).

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