The Rangers have acquired first baseman Sam Travis from the Red Sox in exchange for left-hander Jeffrey Springs, the teams announced. Boston has designated left-hander Bobby Poyner to make room on the 40-man roster.
Both Travis and Springs were recently designated for assignment, though Travis had already cleared waivers and been outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster. Springs, meanwhile, was only designated earlier this afternoon. The Rangers will now pick up Travis’ rights without needing to dedicate a 40-man roster spot to the former prospect. The Red Sox, meanwhile, clearly feel they’re upgrading their left-handed bullpen depth in going with Springs over Poyner.
Travis, 26, was a second-round pick back in 2014 and frequented Red Sox prospect rankings as he rapidly ascended through the lower minors. However, while he hit well up through the Double-A level, Travis saw his bat stall in Triple-A and, despite a series of looks in the Majors, never made good at the game’s top level, either. In all, he’s a .267/.339/.392 hitter in nearly 1200 Triple-A plate appearances and just a .230/.288/.371 hitter in 278 MLB trips to the plate.
That said, the Rangers aren’t exactly teeming with quality first base options. Former top prospect Ronald Guzman hasn’t distinguished himself in his own MLB tryouts to date, and the club is intent on playing Joey Gallo in the outfield. Newly signed Todd Frazier could certainly handle first base if the Texas organization adds a more prominent option at third base, but there’s little harm in stashing Travis as a depth piece in hopes that a change of scenery brings out some of his yet-untapped potential.
The 27-year-old Springs, meanwhile, struggled to a 6.40 ERA with 32 strikeouts against 23 walks in 32 1/3 innings with Texas in 2019. He’s posted huge strikeout numbers in the upper minors and enjoyed better success with the Rangers in 2018 than in 2019, but he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher with below-average velocity who saw his opponents’ hard-hit rate soar in 2019. Springs does have three minor league option years remaining, so he’ll be an optionable piece of depth for the Sox for the foreseeable future — assuming he sticks on the roster.
Poyner, meanwhile, has a minor league option of his own remaining. Like Springs, he’s a 27-year-old who posted solid numbers in 2018 but struggled in 2019. The similarities don’t stop there, as Poyner saw his hard-hit rate and opponents’ exit velocity both jump in 2019. However, he doesn’t have Springs’ gaudy strikeout totals and averages just 89.8 mph on his heater to Springs’ 91.7 mph. Boston will have a week to trade, outright or release Poyner.