The Kansas City Royals have traded left-handed pitcher J.P. Howell to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for center fielder Joey Gathright, ESPN.com has learned.
The Rays also sent minor league second baseman Fernando Cortez to the Royals in that deal. Cortez, 24, appeared in eight games for Tampa Bay last year, going 1-for-13. For Triple-A Durham in 2006, he was hitting .222 with a .265 on-base percentage and a .271 slugging percentage in 203 at bats.
Howell has spent the 2006 season with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, where he was 3-2 with a 4.75 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and 14 walks allowed in 36 innings. He also missed several weeks with shoulder soreness. Howell made 15 starts for Kansas City last year, going 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA, and was originally selected by the Royals with the first pick in the supplemental round of the 2004 amateur draft.
Gathright was sent down to Triple-A by Tampa Bay after hitting .201 with a .305 on-base percentage and .240 slugging percentage in 154 at bats while filling in for the injured Rocco Baldelli. He made his major league debut in 2004 and was originally drafted by the Devil Rays in the 32nd round of the 2001 amateur draft.