Roberts traded to Rays for Minor Leaguer

Roberts traded to Rays for Minor Leaguer

PHOENIX -- The D-backs acquired Minor League infielder Tyler Bortnick from the Rays on Tuesday in exchange for infielder Ryan Roberts.

The D-backs had designated Roberts for assignment earlier in the day Tuesday when they activated infielder John McDonald from the disabled list.

"I would say we've had significant interest in [Roberts] over the last week to 10 days and multiple clubs have called," GM Kevin Towers said when Roberts was designated. "I would say there's probably a very good chance that more than likely a trade will come down here rather shortly. Not done yet, but I'd say we're at the one-yard line with one particular club."

That club turned out to be the Rays.

The 25-year-old Bortnick was hitting .253 with 18 doubles, eight triples, four homers and 48 RBIs for Double-A Montgomery at the time of the trade. He had 23 stolen bases in 26 attempts.

"He's very similar to Ryan Roberts, just a younger version of Ryan Roberts," Towers said. "High on-base percentage guy, great plate discipline, which we like. I wouldn't say he's a burner, but you look at his success rate throughout his Minor League career, a great success rate at stealing bases.

"He's got some power, not a big man, but we think he's going to be an offensive player. We like the way he plays the game, a grinder. He plays the game the right way, does all the little things right, has all the intangibles you look for."

Roberts became a fan favorite for his all-out style of play, and his numerous tattoos earned him the nickname Tatman.

Not expected to make the team last year, Roberts led the Majors in hitting during Spring Training and parlayed that into the starting job at third base. He went on to hit .249 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs as the D-backs captured the 2011 National League West title.

"I don't know if we would have won the division without what he was able to do on the field both defensively, offensively and on the basepaths," Towers said. "I'm going to miss the way he played the game. He played with a lot of enthusiasm, energy and fire."

Roberts was unable to recapture the magic this year. Though his batting average was roughly the same as last year at .250, he had just six homers and 34 RBIs. He struggled defensively early in the season.

"It made me who I am," Roberts said of his four seasons in Arizona. "They gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues, they gave me time, they gave me the chance to become the player that I am right now. That's just a credit to my teammates and the fans.

"I'll definitely miss my teammates, I'll definitely miss the fans that supported me when things were good and when things were bad. That's going to be the thing that hits home the most."

With third baseman Ryan Wheeler swinging a hot bat at Triple-A Reno, the team decided it was time to go in a different direction.

Wheeler was promoted to the big leagues last week and the team wants to give the youngster a chance to play on a regular basis.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.