Marlins send reliever to the Angels for minor league prospect

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Kyle Keller #72 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at Champion Stadium on March 03, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Kyle Keller #72 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at Champion Stadium on March 03, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins send reliever Kyle Keller to the Los Angeles Angels in return for catcher Jose Estrada.

Per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins announced they acquired catching prospect Jose Estrada from the Angels for reliever Kyle Keller, who was designated for assignment on Dec. 20.”
The move gives the Marlins another catcher in their system and adds depth to a position that was suspect at the end of the 2019 campaign.

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"“A native of Venezuela, Estrada appeared in 43 games for the Angels’ Rookie League affiliate in 2019, batting .247/.335/.305. Estrada logged 273 1/3 innings behind the plate last year, throwing out 18 of 61 runners attempting to steal. A right-handed hitter, he also played 22 innings at second base,” Frisaro writes.“New Marlins catching coach Eddy Rodriguez was the Angels’ Minor League catching coordinator last year, so he has familiarity with Estrada, a 19-year-old who will provide lower-level Minor League depth.”"

Miami made a deal last offseason that sent J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies that included Jorge Alfaro, who hit 18 home runs last season as the team’s every-day starter. Chad Wallach could be on the Major League roster as well.

If the Marlins add another catcher to the 26-man roster, there are other possible candidates in Francisco Cervelli, Ryan Lavarnway, B.J. Lopez, Santiago Chavez, and Brian Navarreto. All five catchers were acquired this offseason by the Marlins.

"“Alfaro and Wallach are the only two catchers currently on the 40-man roster, and both had their ups and downs in 2019,” writes Frisaro. “That will change as soon as the club announces the free-agent signing of Cervelli, who reached an agreement on a one-year deal during the holiday break. Once that is official, Cervelli will become the expected backup to Alfaro.”"

Keller, who was on the Marlins Major League roster at the end of the season, was a bit of a surprise release given the team’s woes in the bullpen. He was designated for assignment on Dec. 20, which opened a roster spot on the team’s 40-man roster.

Keller spent the majority of his 2019 season at Triple-A New Orleans but did have a brief stint in Jacksonville at the Double-A level.

He made 10 relief appearances and threw 10 2/3 innings while he posted a 3.38 ERA for the parent club after the All-Star break. He struck out 11 batters while walking eight.

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