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02/19/09 5:19 PM EST
Tribe acquires Salas, designates Marte
Deal with Rays signals end of third baseman's tenure in Cleveland
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians came into camp knowing Andy Marte would be the first guy off their roster, if a 40-man move was made, and they didn't take long to follow through with that plan. Another name was added to the list of candidates for the Tribe's final bullpen spot Thursday, as the Indians acquired right-hander Juan Salas from the Rays for Minor League infielder Isaias Velasquez. Marte was designated for assignment to make room for Salas. It was a high-profile trade that brought Marte to the Indians in 2006, when they sent Coco Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske to the Red Sox for Marte, Kelly Shoppach and Guillermo Mota. This low-profile trade ensured Marte's removal from the 40-man roster, though the Indians could still bring him back into the fold if he clears waivers.
The Indians dubbed Marte their "third baseman of the future" back in 2006, but he's now well on his way to becoming a part of their past. He never got his bat going in the big leagues, hitting .219 with nine homers, 48 RBIs and a .624 OPS in 150 total games with the Tribe. He spent all of last season with the big league club, taking over the full-time third base duties in the second half. For the season, he hit .221 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 80 games.
"He's still working to be more consistent at the big league level, offensively," manager Eric Wedge said of Marte. "That's been the one stumbling block for Andy. He's still young and can still get there, but from our standpoint, with him being out of options, this is kind of where we are right now this spring."
Salas, on the other hand, has an option remaining, and that was part of what attracted the Indians to him. They also like his live arm.
"He's in the mix for the bullpen," Wedge said of Salas. "We've got to look at him, see where he's at and go from there."
The Rays designated Salas for assignment last week. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Durham, going 4-5 with a 2.62 ERA and one save in 28 appearances. He also made five appearances for the Rays, giving up five runs over 6 1/3 innings over two stints.
Salas was converted from third base to pitching in 2004. He has spent his entire career with the Rays, making a total of 47 appearances in the Majors over the last three years and going 1-1 with a 4.44 ERA in 52 2/3 innings.
The 30-year-old Salas has had some noteworthy hiccups in his career. In 2007, he tested positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs and was suspended for 50 games. And last year, he missed all of Spring Training because of visa issues in the Dominican Republic.
To get Salas, the Indians gave up Velasquez, who was on the club's short-season rookie ball squad in Mahoning Valley last year. Velasquez batted .281 with a homer, 10 doubles, a triple and 18 RBIs in 64 games for the Scrappers.
As for Marte, the Indians will have 10 days to trade him or outright him to the Minors, if he clears waivers. If the latter scenario occurs, Marte will be right back in camp as a non-roster invitee.
"He knew the situation coming into camp," Wedge said. "Now it's a matter of what happens from here."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.