With the non-waiver trade deadline 18 days away and the Rangers currently sitting at 42-46 — six games back from the Angels in the AL West — GM Jon Daniels is on the lookout for additions to his bullpen and a right-handed bat, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.
“We’ve told clubs we would like to help out our bullpen a little bit, and add the right complementary right-handed bat,” said Daniels, whose team spent roughly five weeks above the .500 mark from late May to June before enduring a 2-8 skid in July. That success has the Rangers looking at short-term additions.
The Rangers’ collective bullpen ERA of 4.38 is trailed only by the Braves (4.40) and Rockies (4.52) this season. Texas recently took the rather surprising step of designating former closer and AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz for assignment, though looking at Feliz strictly from a performance standpoint, he’s undergone a pronounced decline.
Texas has received excellent production from new closer Shawn Tolleson and rookie setup man Keone Kela, while lefty Sam Freeman has been solid through 18 2/3 innings as well. A second lefty would seem to be a reasonable target for the Rangers, as Alex Claudio has been homer-prone and unable to stick in the Majors. Fellow southpaw Ross Detwiler was designated for assignment over the weekend.
From a speculative standpoint, a pair of players that recently met that same DFA fate could, on some level, make some sense for the Rangers, given Daniels’ stated needs. Old friend Jason Frasor, who excelled with the Rangers for a season and a half from 2013-14, was designated by the Royals last week. (Frasor’s control has been spotty at best, however.) Delmon Young could serve as the type of “complementary” right-handed bat that the Rangers seek. Baltimore designated the 29-year-old for assignment two weeks ago and ultimately released him after being unable to find a trade partner. The Rangers could also take a shot on Brandon League (recently DFA by the Dodgers) or Joba Chamberlain (released by the Tigers), though either would be more of a reclamation project than an immediate answer to the club’s present needs.
A large reason that the team is seeking a right-handed bat is due to an imbalance in the lineup and the upper minors. Daniels notes that it’s both a short- and long-term goal to balance out his lineup. Currently, the Rangers have a glut of left-handed bats, including Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Hamilton, Mitch Moreland, Rougned Odor and Leonys Martin. Daniels mentions to Sullivan that even at the prospect level, many of the club’s top prospects — presumably referring to third baseman Joey Gallo and outfielders Nomar Mazara and Nick Williams — are all lefty bats as well.
Looking at the bigger picture, Daniels remains open to adding rotation pieces that are controlled beyond the 2015 season as well, Sullivan writes. Yovani Gallardo has been the team’s most consistent pitcher in 2015, but he’s a free agent at season’s end, as are Colby Lewis and Wandy Rodriguez. Both Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have murky futures due to injuries, and ace Yu Darvish, of course, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Young lefty Martin Perez is also on the mend from Tommy John, though the club hopes to have him back shortly after the All-Star break.
Talk of adding pieces beyond the 2015 season will likely trigger more Cole Hamels speculation, but Sullivan writes that the Rangers “aren’t enamored with” taking on a lefty that is owed $22.5MM on an annual basis. Nor, Sullivan writes, is the team willing to give up the number of prospects currently being sought by the Phillies.