The Rangers acquired veteran righty Jason Grilli and cash considerations from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league outfielder Eduard Pinto, according to a Rangers media release. In corresponding moves, right-hander Preston Claiborne was designated for assignment, righty Tanner Scheppers was optioned to Triple-A and right-hander Tony Barnette was activated from the disabled list.
All of these moves will address a Texas bullpen that ranks near the bottom of the league in most categories, and is particularly in flux after the demotion of closer Matt Bush. It may be unlikely to expect Grilli to factor into the Rangers’ closer-by-committee situation given the veteran’s rough start to the 2017 season. The 40-year-old has a 6.97 ERA over 20 2/3 IP, and despite some decent peripherals (10.02 K/9, 2.56 K/BB rate), Grilli has simply been unable to keep the ball in the park, surrendering a whopping nine home runs in his brief time on the mound this year.
It’s worth noting that Grilli also pitched poorly at the beginning of the 2016 season, though he improved greatly after being dealt to the Blue Jays in May 2016 and was a key cog in Toronto’s run to the postseason. The Rangers are obviously hoping for a similar uptick in performance from a change in scenery for Grilli, who is making his second stint in the organization (he pitched in 30 games for Texas in 2009).
Grilli was still owed roughly $1.4MM for the rest of 2017, so the money Toronto is sending along in the deal likely makes up a good chunk of that remaining salary. In exchange, the Jays add a 22-year-old outfielder in Pinto who has a .309/.367/.390 slash line over 1683 career PA in six pro seasons. Pinto played 22 games at Double-A last season, his highest level achieved, and this year has a .311/.358/.446 slash line over 191 PA at high A-ball.
Claiborne had his contract purchased by the Rangers two weeks ago and he appeared in one game for the team, which marked Claiborne’s first taste of MLB action since 2014. The right-hander missed all of 2015 due to a shoulder injury and spent 2016 pitching in the Giants’ minor league system.