ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays traded Brad Boxberger to the D-backs on Thursday in exchange for Minor League right-hander Curtis Taylor.
"You're never surprised about getting traded," said Boxberger in a telephone interview. "Every offseason there's a bunch of trades going, so it's never a surprise since I've been through it a couple of times now. Definitely didn't think it would happen this early in the offseason."
Boxberger, 29, led the American League in saves with 41 in 2015, his fourth Major League season. He also made the All-Star team that season. But the right-hander has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons. Not being available opened the door for Alex Colome to take over the closing duties for the Rays.
Rays trade Brad Boxberger to D-backs for prospect
"I definitely enjoyed my time with the Rays," Boxberger said. "Spending the past four years of my career there, being able to establish myself as a solid reliever, and getting the opportunity to close, lead the American League in saves and be an All-Star in [2015] is definitely something I'll never forget as my career goes on.
"I definitely look forward to this new opportunity in Arizona. But definitely not going to forget the times I had, and the people that my family and I got to know and kind of grow with as a family. I'll cherish that the rest of my life."
Rays owner Stu Sternberg has mandated that the payroll be lower this season. Boxberger made $1.6 million in 2017, and he's entering his second year of arbitration eligibility.
Tampa Bay's bullpen will have a much different look in 2018 due to the number of free agents who will likely go to other teams before next season. Trading Boxberger will create yet another spot to fill.
Boxberger went 4-4 with a 3.38 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 30 appearances last season, recording a 0.96 ERA over his final nine appearances.
Boxberger said he finished 2017 "as healthy and as strong as I could have."
"I'm looking forward to getting back out there this year and continuing to pitch the way I did at the end of the season," Boxberger said. "I got my mechanics back to where I wanted them. And I had the location back that I'd been looking for for a year and a half, or however long it's been. Felt like myself. Just looking to carry that into next year."
Over six seasons in the Major Leagues with the Padres (2012-13) and Rays (2014-17), Boxberger is 17-20 with a 3.19 ERA and 297 strikeouts.
Boxberger is a former first-round pick of the Reds in 2009, and he was dealt to the Rays along with Matt Andriese and Logan Forsythe in the 2013-14 offseason.
Taylor, 22, went 3-4 with a 3.32 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 13 appearances, all starts, last season for Class A Kane County. He did not pitch after July 13 due to a right shoulder impingement, but he is expected to be healthy to begin the 2018 season.
Following the season, Taylor was ranked by as the No. 14 prospect in the D-backs' system. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was a fourth-round selection of the D-backs in the 2016 Draft, becoming the highest-drafted player from the University of British Columbia since left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis in '02.
Bill Chastain /

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