TODAY: Herget elected to become a free agent rather than accept an outright assignment to the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, the team announced.
AUGUST 13: The Rangers announced they’ve activated starter Dane Dunning from the 10-day injured list and selected the contract of catcher Yohel Pozo. Left-hander Wes Benjamin and first baseman Curtis Terry were optioned to Triple-A Round Rock in corresponding moves. To create space on the 40-man roster for Pozo, Texas designated reliever Jimmy Herget for assignment.
Dunning is back after a minimal absence due to a right ankle impingement. He’s getting the start tonight against the A’s. Acquired from the White Sox in exchange for Lance Lynn over the offseason, Dunning has had a solid year working out of the Texas rotation. The 26-year-old has pitched to a 4.07 ERA over 95 innings. His 23% strikeout rate and 8.2% walk percentage are essentially league average, and Dunning has racked up grounders at a massive 55.7% clip. He looks to be a solid middle or back of the rotation piece over the long-term for the rebuilding Rangers.
Pozo is getting the start at designated hitter tonight in what’ll be his major league debut. Signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela during the 2013-14 international period, the right-handed hitting backstop has appeared in parts of seven minor league seasons in the Texas organization. Pozo actually signed with the Padres as a minor league free agent last offseason, but the Rangers almost immediately selected him back in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.
Entering the 2021 season, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs ranked Pozo the #56 prospect in the Rangers system, suggesting he could be a reserve catcher in the Willians Astudillo mold. Indeed, Pozo has almost never struck out or walked in his minor league career. His first promotion to Triple-A brought with it a huge uptick in power production, as Pozo has popped 19 home runs in 280 plate appearances after entering the season with 25 long balls in 1733 trips to the dish.
Herget has appeared in the big leagues with the Reds and Rangers, working thirty innings of relief over the past three years. His 4.20 ERA is fine, but the right-hander has only punched out 14.5% of opponents against an elevated 13% walk rate. That said, he’s had a very strong season in Round Rock, tossing 37 2/3 frames of 2.63 ERA ball with much better strikeout and walk numbers (30.6% and 7.6%, respectively). It’s the continuation of a long track record of good minor league work for Herget, who was once a fairly well-regarded relief prospect in the Cincinnati system.
The Rangers will place Herget on waivers in the coming days. Given his solid work in the minors, he could pique the interest of a club looking for some extra bullpen depth. Herget still has a minor league option remaining beyond this season, so any claiming team could shuttle him between the majors and Triple-A through the end of 2022 if he sticks on a 40-man roster.