Torres dealt to Brewers for prospects
Relievers Salas, Roberts should add depth to bullpen
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington didn't wait long to do some wheeling and dealing.
Showing patience in the wake of trade rumors that swirled through the annual Winter Meetings this week, Huntington dealt veteran reliever Salomon Torres to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday for right-handers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts.
"With this trade, we have acquired two young relief pitchers who provide us with quality depth, options and multiple years of control," Huntington said in a news release that announced the three-player deal. "They have each had success during their respective Minor League careers."
Of the two young arms, the 26-year-old Salas is the most experienced. He joined the Brewers on Feb. 1 in a waiver transition after being in the Baltimore Orioles organization since 1998. He was long thought to have a solid future as a Major League closer.
Salas split time last season between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. He posted a 2.77 ERA with 17 saves in 51 games.
Roberts, 23, was a fifth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He went 6-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 45 relief appearances last season for Class A Brevard County. He also pitched in 15 games in the Hawaiian Winter League and posted a 4.82 ERA.
Neither he nor Salas was on the Brewers' 40-man roster.
The acquisition of two Minor League prospects wasn't the kind of blockbuster deal that had been rumored throughout the Winter Meetings. The names of several high-profile Pirates, including outfielders Jason Bay and Nate McLouth, had been tossed about like confetti.
In the end, Huntington decided to hold to his wait-and-see approach.
"Overall, I don't know how the offseason is going to pan out other than to say that we would like to get better," Huntington told MLB.com on Thursday. "We would like to make some baseball trades that not only helps the '08 club, but helps the '09, '10' and '11 club."
Adding young relievers like Roberts and Salas seems to fit neatly into Huntington's long-term plans.
In trading Torres, Huntington bid adieu to a pitcher who had been with the Pirates since 2002. Torres has had seasons where his ERA was as low as 2.64  and where he saved as many as 12 games [2006 and '07].
But in 2007, he struggled. He had opened the season as Pirates closer, but his inability to close games cost him the job. Torres, who was scheduled to make $3.2 million next season, appeared in 56 games for the Pirates, all in relief. His ERA was 5.47; his record, 2-4.
He waged a public feud last season with former GM Dave Littlefield, whom Torres alleged had "tricked" him into signing a below-market contract with a promise to rent space at one of Torres' youth baseball facilities in the Dominican Republic.
Then, just this week, Huntington challenged Torres to improve his conditioning over the offseason, which is something Torres said in published reports that he planned to do.
"[Torres] had a little bit of an off-year," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com. "But we think a change of scenery is going to help him."
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.