In anticipation of Monday night's non-tender deadline, the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins completed a small swap of players. The Marlins sent reliever Burke Badenhop to the Rays in return for minor league catcher Jake Jefferies.
Badenhop was set to get a raise this season in arbitration, and since the Marlins have such a crowded bullpen, it seems likely that they were planning on non-tendering him later that night. This way, instead of receiving nothing for his services, the Marlins got a spare part back in Jefferies. While Jefferies won't be confused with Joe Mauer anytime soon, he's useful organization filler; the Marlins may have needed a catcher to help out on their Double-A or Single-A team, and Jefferies can do that.
As Erik Hahmann noted over at DRaysBay, Badenhop looks like he'll be a useful bullpen piece for the Rays:
His most marketable skill is inducing ground balls. In 63 innings last season he produced a ground ball on 58.5 percent of batters faced. He's predominately faced right handed batters over his career and does have some platoon issues. His FIP against right handed batters is 2.87 as opposed to 4.75 against lefties. The most notable differences appear in the strikeout and walk rates; 4.84 K/BB against RHB and 1.06 vs LHB.
I have a feeling, assuming he makes the roster, that Maddon will use much him like he did Dan Wheeler. He should have an excellent shot at the major league bullpen.
While Badenhop is a great addition for the Rays, I'm not sure why the Marlins were so willing to part with him for peanuts. He could have been a useful, cheap part of their bullpen as well, and he certainly would have come cheaper than Juan Oviedo...who may not even get a visa in time for the season.
This move won't destroy the Marlins or doom them to failure -- the Curse of the Badenhop! -- but it is a perplexing move and makes me question the Marlins' philosophy on bullpen building. Yeah, talk about extreme nitpicking.