The Detroit Tigers made a move to improve their bullpen late Wednesday, sending two of the top prospects in their system to the Texas Rangers for Joakim Soria.
Per a source, #Tigers set to acquire #Rangers right handed closer Joakim Soria. Corey Knebel & Jake Thompson head to Texas in the deal.— Kyle Bogenschutz (@KyleBogie) July 24, 2014
Soria, who is in the midst of a career resurgence after the Tommy John surgery that kept him on the shelf for the entire 2012 season, has been on the Tigers' radar for the past few weeks thanks to the continued struggles at the back of Detroit's bullpen. The 30 year old Rangers closer has posted a remarkable 10.50 K/BB and a 0.87 WHIP in Arlington this year, but the hoard of injuries and mounting losses in Texas placed him firmly on the trade block.
The Tigers bullpen has limped to the tune of a 4.41 ERA this season thanks in large part to Joe Nathan's struggles as closer, and Soria will presumably help take the pressure off the embattled 39 year old despite Detroit's insistence that their offseason acquisition will keep hold of the closer's role.
Heading to Texas are a pair of solid prospects in pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Knebel was taken by the Tigers 39th overall in the 2013 MLB draft out of the University of Texas, and he struck out 11.8 batters per 9 innings as a reliever across three levels in the minors before making his MLB debut with Detroit earlier this season. Thompson, on the other hand, is a 20 year old, 6'4" right-hander who was recently promoted to the Tigers Double-A affiliate after posting a 3.14 ERA in 16 successful starts for A+ Lakeland after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Tigers. Both Thompson and Knebel were ranked among the Top 10 prospects in the Tigers system prior to the 2014 season by Baseball America.
Soria has just over $2 million remaining on his 2014 salary, and the Tigers will now hold a $7 million team option on him for 2015.