SAN DIEGO -- Of the four players that the Padres received in their July 18 deal with the Angels for All-Star closer Huston Street, none was held in higher regard than 23-year-old reliever R.J. Alvarez.
The Angels didn't want to part with him. The Padres insisted on him being part of the deal, one that was brokered by then-assistant general manager A.J. Hinch.
On Tuesday, the Padres added Alvarez, a right-hander, to their active roster even though he didn't have to be protected this winter. The message was clear -- the Padres want to get a look at Alvarez, a pitcher they feel who could be a part of their bullpen in 2015.
"Our scouts are very high on this guy," Padres manager Bud Black said. "This guy was one of the guys our baseball ops department had targeted."
Alvarez, catcher Adam Moore, right-handed pitcher Joe Wieland and left-handed pitcher Frank Garces were added to the active roster -- which is up to 32 now that the rosters have been expanded.
The Padres designated infielder Chris Nelson and left-handed reliever Troy Patton for assignment and added infielder Ryan Jackson to the 40-man roster and then put him on the 60-day disabled list with a right wrist strain.
As for Alvarez, he had a 2.76 ERA in 17 games with Double-A San Antonio after the trade. His combined ERA between two Double-A stops was 1.25 with 61 strikeouts and 29 hits allowed in 43 1/3 innings.
Alvarez was one his way back to his native Florida with teammate John Barbato by car Monday, only 10 minutes outside San Antonio, when his manager, Rich Dauer, called to tell him he was heading to San Diego instead.
"I'm super-pumped," Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he made some big gains last year in the Arizona Fall League where he refined his slider, the pitch he uses with his four-seam fastball. The slider is a devastating pitch against right-handed batters.
"It comes out hot," Black said.
While Alvarez will get some innings in September, Black said he wouldn't hesitate to use him in higher-leverage situations because he's shown he can handle those in the Minor Leagues, where he has a 2.41 ERA and an average of 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings for his career.
As for Moore, 30, he'll be used as the third catcher this month. With Yasmani Grandal seeing more time at first base and Rene Rivera catching, this gives the Padres some protection at a critical spot. Moore hit .305 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs in 93 Minor League games this season, mostly with Triple-A El Paso.
Wieland, working his way back Tommy John surgery on July 27, 2012, last pitched in the big leagues for the Padres on May 6, 2012. He was a combined 2-3 with a 3.03 ERA in nine games and 38 2/3 innings.
Garces spent three days with the Padres last month, throwing three scoreless innings over two outings. He had a 1.93 ERA in 51 games with San Antonio this season.