Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Hammel trade? is reporting the Rockies are close to acquiring Rays pitcher Jason Hammel in exchange for minor league pitcher Aneury Rodriguez, a 21-year-old who was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in Class A last season.

The Rockies are expected to put Hammel in the bullpen.

This is somewhat of a surprise since it is Jeff Niemann who has garnered the most trade talk during the last week of spring training.

But Niemann has more upside than Hammel. The Rays feel Hammel has reached his peak as a starter, which is why they were happy to leave him in the bullpen as the long man last season after Scott Kazmir returned from the disabled list.

Niemann made just two major league starts last season, splitting two decisions. He looked great in one, awful in the other.

But the Rays see Niemann as a possible closer.

Both Niemann and Hammel are scheduled to pitch Sunday in a Triple A game in Port Charlotte.

The Rays have until 3 p.m. to finalize the Opening Day roster.

Expect some movement either before 3 p.m. or soon after.

We'll keep you posted.

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