The Rangers have acquired minor league shortstop Andres Mesa from the Mariners as the player to be named later from last December’s Rafael Montero trade. The two parties had until tomorrow to agree on the player involved, as PTBNLs must be determined within six months of a trade’s completion. Mesa has been assigned to the Rangers’ affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
Mesa, 18, was signed as an international prospect in the summer of 2019, landing a $500K bonus from the Mariners. He’s yet to play in an official game with the Mariners yet thanks to lack of any minor league competition in 2020. At the time of his signing, Baseball America’s Ben Badler called Mesa a plus runner with a “huge” arm and the athleticism to handle an up-the-middle position, be it shortstop, second base or center field.
Mesa becomes the second member of the Mariners 2019-20 international class to join the Rangers as part of the deal. Seventeen-year-old righty Jose Corniell was announced to be part of the trade at the time of the swap, and he currently ranks as the Rangers’ No. 29 prospect at MLB.com. That both players acquired are so young and so far from MLB readiness is a reflection of the younger direction the Rangers have taken over the course of the past year.
The acquisition of Montero hasn’t gone as well as the Mariners would’ve hoped. The former Mets top prospect was quite good in a resurgent showing with Texas from 2019-20, pitching to a combined 3.09 ERA with a hefty 28.9 percent strikeout rate and a tiny 5.9 percent walk rate. He’s sitting on a 5.21 ERA through 28 2/3 frames as a Mariner, and while a pair of rough outings in particular skew that ERA, the overall results have taken a dive from Montero’s 2019-20 levels. He’s striking out far fewer batters and issuing more walks, which have combined to offset an overwhelming uptick in ground-ball rate.
Montero isn’t giving up much in the way of hard contact, and fielding-independent numbers are more bullish on him than that bottom-line ERA, so there’s still some hope of a turnaround. He’s also controlled into the 2022 season via arbitration, so if he is ultimately able to right the ship, he has some value to the Mariners beyond the current campaign.