After days of trying to acquire Padres closer Heath Bell, the Rangers finally decided that they would have to give up too much for him and went instead with Orioles late-inning man Koji Uehara. Uehara has been as dominant as any reliever in baseball this season compiling a ridiculous 7.75 K/BB ratio, ranking behind only Sergio Romo of the Giants, leading to a phenomenal 1.51 SIERA and 2.31 xFIP.
Uehara addresses an immediate need for the Rangers who rank above only the Tigers, Rays and Twins in AL bullpen xFIP and dead-last in shutdown-to-meltdown ratio at 1.43, but the question is: did they give up too much?
Going to Baltimore is first baseman (who sometimes masquerades as a third baseman) Chris Davis and right-handed starter Tommy Hunter. Davis has a career .300 OBP in 949 plate appearances since his first call-up in 2008 and although he shows plus power at times, he is already 25 and has had more than enough time to take the reins at first base in Arlington. After an atrocious 2010 season, the Rangers gave his job at first to Mitch Moreland.
Davis did hit .368/.405/.824 in 48 games with AAA- Round Rock this season, but it simply has not translated to Major League performance. The Orioles, already with similar low-OBP high power players at the corner spots in Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds seem intent on acquiring players with very little ceiling and high strikeout rates.
Hunter, meanwhile is also 25 and has battled groin problems this year that have limited him to only 17 appearances between AA, AAA and the Majors in 2011. The Rangers used him primarily as a reliever this season, but the Orioles expect to try him again in a starter’s role, something he’s spent most of career doing. In 22 starts with Texas in 2010, Hunter went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA, but those numbers were misleading as his peripherals led to a 4.99 FIP.
The Rangers have to be considered winners here, at least on paper, considering they also get $2-million from the Orioles to cover half of Uehara’s already modest salary next season. If he produces at even half the level in the next year-and-a-half that he was in Baltimore, the Rangers can rely in him to get a number of outs at the back end of their bullpen.
With a glut of high-ceiling starters in the Rangers’ system, they won’t miss Hunter, whose ceiling is probably as a fifth starter anyway, and Davis may never be more than a power bat that underachieves in every other aspect of the game. Considering how relatively cheap Uehara is in comparison to other relievers on the market and that he’s also under contract for 2012, it seems like the Orioles could have done better. Uehara will also likely bring the Rangers compensation draft picks after next season since he is currently the highest ranked reliever in baseball according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It is now also unlikely that the Rangers will land Heath Bell, who is still being mentioned in connection to the Cardinals and even the Blue Jays; the Rangers are reported to be still in the mix.
The Nationals, who are not in contention, made their second trade in a matter of hours shipping veteran starter Jason Marquis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for shortstop prospect Zach Walters. Marquis, who’ll be 33 next month, has enjoyed a decent season in the middle of Washington’s rotation this season posting a 3.99 SIERA and 3.85 xFIP and should be able to help out the back-end of the D’Backs rotation down the stretch.
Walters, meanwhile, is just 21 and was the highest position player selected by the D’backs in last year’s draft (ninth round), but has a limited ceiling. According to Baseball America, he’s a heady player whose smarts outweigh his tools, but he probably doesn’t have the arm or the range to stick at short. He figures to be a potential utility player with pop from both sides of the plate.
The Nationals probably got all they could for Marquis who had very little value to them down the stretch, while the D’Backs pick up a serviceable arm even if they still don’t have the talent to compete with the division-leading Giants.
There are plenty of rumours out there including Ubaldo Jimenez being linked to the Clevelands. The Rockies asking price remains high, but it appears as though the Indians are willing to literally mortgage the farm potentially discussing giving up three of their top four prospects in Jason Kipnis, Drew Pomeranz, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Alex White.
Stupidity could ensue so stay tuned to Getting Blanked.