Rays add Yankees' Solak in three-team deal

D-backs' Banda bound for Tampa Bay while Arizona nabs Souza

Nick Solak sports a .305 career batting average over 194 games in his two Minor League seasons. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By Alex Kraft / MiLB.com | February 20, 2018 11:52 PM

The Rays' rebuild continued Tuesday, with some help from a division rival.

Tampa Bay acquired eighth-ranked Yankees prospect Nick Solak and D-backs No. 4 prospect Anthony Banda in a three-team trade that sent Rays outfielder Steven Souza to Arizona and D-backs infielder Brandon Drury to New York. Arizona also acquired Yankees No. 14 prospect Taylor Widener in the deal.

Currently MLB.com's No. 5 second base prospect, Solak came to the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 Draft. After leading Class A Short Season Staten Island with a .321 average in his pro debut, the 23-year-old combined for a .297/.384/.452 slash line with 12 homers, five triples, 26 doubles, 53 RBIs and 14 steals in 130 games between Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton last year. While Solak's greatest assets are on the offensive side, the University of Louisville product held his own at second with 17 errors and a .968 fielding percentage in 122 games at the position.

"[Solak] is someone who has a very long history of hitting," Neander said. "He can flat-out hit. He's a wonderful kid with a burning desire to improve and to make the most of what he has."

Video: Trenton's Solak smashes one

But Banda is coming off a down season after beginning last year as the D-backs' top prospect. The left-hander went 8-7 with a 5.39 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 122 innings in 22 starts with Triple-A Reno after posting a 3.67 ERA over 73 2/3 frames at that level in 2016. The 2012 10th-round pick also finished 2-3 with a 5.96 ERA, 10 walks and 25 punchouts over 25 2/3 innings in eight big league appearances.

Nevertheless, Banda still shows potential with an above-average three-pitch mix that includes a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball combined with a developing changeup. Joining the Rays organization will enable him to put that stuff to work outside of the hitter-friendly conditions of the Pacific Coast League.

"A lefty that physically checks a lot of boxes," Rays general manager Erik Neander said. "He's got a three-pitch mix right now. He's got a quality fastball that has reached the upper 90s, has a developing feel for a breaking ball that we'd like to see get a little more consistent and a good changeup.

"From all indications, good makeup, good work ethic, good character, somebody who will be right in the mix for us when he comes over to our camp."

Widener heads to Arizona after two seasons in the New York system. The Yankees drafted the right-hander in the 12th round in 2016 and sent him to Tampa to begin his first full season last year after just 23 innings at Class A Charleston the year before. Widener responded by going 7-8, finishing tied for third in the Florida State League with a 3.39 ERA and third with 129 strikeouts. A reliever at the University of South Carolina, the 23-year-old transitioned into a full-time starter in 2017.

The 28-year-old Souza broke out with a career-high 30 homers, 78 RBIs and a .239/.351/.459 slash line in his third season in Tampa Bay last year. The fifth-year Major Leaguer is expected to take over the outfield spot vacated by the departure of J.D. Martinez, who left the D-backs to sign with the Red Sox on Monday.

The Yankees acquired Drury, a 2010 13th-round pick of the Braves who spent the past two seasons in the big leagues with Arizona. The 25-year-old hit .267 with 13 long balls and 63 RBIs in 135 games in 2017 and has played second base, third and outfield at the Major League level. 

Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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