Rockies land hard-throwing Diaz for Rutledge

Right-hander made five relief appearances for Angels in 2014

Rockies land hard-throwing Diaz for Rutledge

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies acquired right-handed reliever Jairo Diaz -- who averaged 97 mph on his fastball during a five-game Major League trial, according to Pitch-f/x -- from the Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge on Wednesday night during the Winter Meetings.

Starting pitching is the Rockies' biggest need and rumors were rampant that the club was working on trading for the Mets' Dillon Gee, but Colorado also needs young relief arms, although Diaz might not be in the 2015 plans. Diaz will have a chance to make the team but has Minor League options for three years.


Winter Meetings action

Day 4: Dec. 11 Transaction Official?
OF Matt Kemp
C Tim Federowicz
Traded to Padres No
C Yasmani Grandal
RHP Joe Wieland
RHP Zach Eflin
Traded to Dodgers No
OF Yoenis Cespedes
RHP Alex Wilson
Traded to Tigers Yes
RHP Rick Porcello Traded to Red Sox Yes
RHP Ervin Santana Four-year deal with Twins No
LHP Mat Latos Traded to Marlins No
RHP Anthony DeSclafani
C Chad Wallach
Traded to Reds No
RHP Justin Masterson One-year deal with Red Sox No
RHP Alfredo Simon Traded to Tigers Yes
RHP Jonathon Crawford
IF Eugenio Suarez
Traded to Reds Yes
LHP Ross Detwiler Traded to Rangers No
OF John Mayberry Jr. One-year deal with Mets No
RHP Andre Rienzo Traded to Marlins Yes
LHP Dan Jennings Traded to White Sox Yes

Diaz, 23, a product of Venezuela, posted a 3.18 ERA with eight strikeouts and three walks in 5 2/3 Major League innings in 2014. In the Minors, Diaz went a combined 4-4 with 15 saves and a 3.48 ERA at Class A Inland Empire and Double-A Arkansas before making his September callup appearances. This year in the Venezuelan Winter League, Diaz has given up six runs, five earned, in two innings for Caribes de Anzoategui.

The Angels signed Diaz as a catcher in 2007 but converted him after he hit .184 in 2008 and .118 in 2009 in the Dominican Summer League.

The trade is the first for general manager Jeff Bridich, who took over for the Dan O'Dowd-Bill Geivett combo in October.

Rutledge, a third-round Rockies pick in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Alabama, stands as the Angels' starting second baseman unless other moves occur. Not long before making the trade with the Rockies, the Angels sent second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers for left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney. The Dodgers had acquired Heaney and three prospects hours earlier from the Marlins for second baseman Dee Gordon and pitcher Dan Haren.

In 2012, Rutledge was called up from Double-A Tulsa to replace injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and hit .274 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 73 games. The Rockies made him the starting second baseman in 2013, but he dipped to .235 in 88 Major League games, spent 38 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs and lost his starting job to DJ LeMahieu, who ended up as the Rockies' Wilson Defensive Player of the Year that season and won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2014.

"We want to thank Josh for everything he has done within the Rockies organization and we are proud of the way he developed and played the game of baseball for us," Bridich said in the club's official announcement. "We are also excited to bring aboard a talent like Jairo Diaz and look forward to his contributions in our bullpen, hopefully in the near future."

Rutledge hit .269 with four home runs and 33 RBIs in 105 Major League games in 2014, again spending time at Colorado Springs.

Rutledge wound up in a utility role, but the Rockies have other options. Switch-hitting Rafael Ynoa hit .343 in 19 late-season games for the Rockies this year in his debut Major League season. Switch-hitting Cristhian Adames, who had 15 plate appearances with the Rockies, leads the Dominican Winter League with a .360 average in 39 games.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.