Yesterday I discussed which team I believe made the best moves at the trade deadline. But I would be remiss if I didn't discuss another team who made a pair of great moves to set themselves up for another long October. That team would be the Texas Rangers.
What They Got
Prior to the trades, the Rangers' bullpen had been a bit suspect. Here's some of the numbers from the bullpen this season, according to Fangraphs. These numbers include the 2 games in August.
- 20 bullpen losses (14th in AL)
- 4.32 bullpen ERA (11th in AL)
- 1.36 HR/9IP (13th in AL)
- 4.68 bullpen FIP (14th in AL)
Clearly, they needed some help out there. Closer Neftali Feliz has been having a decent season, but not nearly the year that made him the Rookie of the Year last year. They have been piecing together parts of the bullpen as well, using Dave Bush, Michael Kirkman, Darren O'Day, Brett Tomko, and the newly DFA'd Arthur Rhodes.
Even though it had been rumored that Mike Adams was not available via trade, the Rangers were able to acquire him for 2 solid pitching prospects. Adams posted a 1.13 ERA and a 9.19 K/9 in San Diego, and the numbers don't appear to have been a product of Petco (2.06 FIP, 2.70 xFIP). He should continue to be an excellent 8th inning pitcher, and probably could close if they need it of him.
Equally as important was the acquisition of Uehara. Uehara has a 1.72 ERA so far this season, along with an 11.87 K/9 rate. Uehara has closed in the past as well, and may be the 3rd best pitcher in the bullpen now. The key with both of these players are that they are under team control for 2012 at what are likely to be very reasonable prices. Uehara has an option which will vest when he reaches 55 appearances this year (he has 44 already), and Adams is eligible for arbitration after this season.
What They Gave Up
In terms of pieces that they will need in the next couple of years, not very much. Let's start with the Orioles' side of the puzzle.
It may feel like Chris Davis has been around for quite a while, and that could be because he's been shuttling between Texas and AAA on and off for the last 4 seasons. Davis continues to show power every time he goes to AAA (24 homers this season), but continues to strikeout at a ridiculous rate. The Orioles will do well to put him at either 3B or 1B, but he clearly was unlikely to break into the lineup in Texas.
Tommy Hunter is in his 4th season in the Majors as well, and had an excellent year last season as a starting pitcher. He went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA, but his peripheral numbers belied a pitcher who was pretty lucky (4.99 FIP, 4.78 K/9, 2.32 BB/9). He was not used as a starter at all this season, and had basically become an extra pitcher for the team.
The bigger pieces in the trades were the prospects that the Padres received. LHP Robbie Erlin was a 2009 draft pick, and had been pitching in AA for the Rangers when he was traded. RHP Joe Wieland was a 2008 draft pick, and had actually no-hit the Padres' AA affiliate in his last start for the Rangers. Both are thought of pretty highly in terms of prospects, and John Sickels had this to say about the both of them when he wrote them up after the trade:
Erlin: Extremely polished, the 20-year-old southpaw works with a fastball with mediocre velocity at 87-92 MPH, but he locates the heater well and mixes it effectively with an above-average curveball and changeup.
Wieland: Wieland has an average heater at 88-92 MPH, but his command is excellent and he mixes in a good slider and curveball. His changeup still needs some work, but his command is among the best in the minor leagues.
Both seem likely to have an even better chance of getting to the Majors and having success with the Padres, especially Erlin due to his tendency for fly balls.
Realistically, the Rangers did not need very many upgrades. Their lineup is excellent, with the catcher position and maybe the 1B position being a bit weaker than the rest of the lineup. But they were able to trade from some of the depth of their system to get two of the best relievers that were available. The moves were both for this season and for the future, as both relievers are under control for next season. The other part that is key is that the Rangers did not give up either of their top two prospects, Jurickson Profar and Martin Perez. They gave up Erlin and Wieland, both of whom were solid prospects, but still at least another year or two away from being in the Majors, and probably as many as 3 from contributing there.
The Rangers have taken advantage of the fact that their division is extremely weak, and looks like it will be that way for the foreseeable future as well.