Updates from Thursday, July 24
Dombrowski: "You have to give up things to get a player of Soria's cailber. We had to do it, in our estimation."— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 24, 2014
Dombrowski on Joel Hanrahan: "At this point I would say we're not counting on him at all. It does not sound encouraging."— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 24, 2014
Dombrowski: "There's no given when people have to come back from Tommy John surgery, or any surgery. ... We knew that when we signed him."— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 24, 2014
The Oakland Press' Matthew B. Mowery had more:
DD on Soria's option: "I think it's a plus for us to know that we can have Joakim for another year."— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 24, 2014
The Texas Rangers agreed to trade closer Joakim Soria to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitching prospect Jake Thompson and recently recalled reliever Corey Knebel.
Kyle Bogenschutz, a Michigan-based reporter for Scout Media, had the initial report:
The Tigers eventually made the deal official:
The Tigers tonight announced the club has acquired RHP Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for RHPs Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) July 24, 2014
MLB.com's Jason Beck reports on Soria's role with the team:
Nathan will remain closer, Dave Dombrowski confirms in email.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 24, 2014
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted that the Tigers ruled out a reunion with former closer Joaquin Benoit in favor of Soria:
This move is extremely beneficial for both sides. Texas has little to play for, sitting in last place in the American League West division.
The glaring weakness in recent years in Arlington has been pitching, something the Rangers haven't been able to overcome enough to deliver a World Series, despite some high-octane batting orders. Thompson, 20, is turning heads at the minor league level.
Check out this glowing assessment by Tigers blogger Jordan Gorosh from the Detroit Free Press:
He's able to spot the fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone and can generate plenty of ground balls. Thompson's slider is a big-league out pitch, with two-plane bite and hard, tight spin. The curveball is a more recent addition—added in the minors—and thrown as more of a chase pitch right now. But it adds another look.
As for Knebel, Detroit called him up to the big leagues in a move manager Brad Ausmus used to bring a fresh arm to the bullpen. Chad Smith was optioned back to Triple-A in favor of Knebel after yielding two earned runs in one inning with 37 pitches.
"Smith threw too many pitches to be able to throw today, with having two games we just needed another arm," Ausmus told reporters, via the Detroit Free Press.
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted just how woeful Detroit has been once its starting hurlers leave the bump:
Tigers trade for Rangers closer Joakim Soria. Tigers bullpen ERA of 4.37 ranks 26th among the 30 MLB teams— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 24, 2014
Talk about getting a boost. The Tigers are leading the AL Central by 6.5 games following Wednesday's MLB action. They are clearly intent on finding a setup man and closer combo to slam the door in order to capitalize on their loaded pitching staff's quality starts.
Matt Sussman of Baseball Prospectus notes how Soria has a knack for keeping the ball in the park:
Joakim Soria has not allowed a home run all year, which is not so much a stat than it is a dare— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) July 24, 2014
Perhaps with the heightened pressure of pitching for a contender, Soria will find it harder to consistently get late-inning outs. However, he's been stellar with the Rangers, converting 17 of 19 save opportunities this season. That has to give the Tigers some comfort when they deploy him, clinging to a narrow lead.
Who got the better end of this trade?
The long-term winner in this instance could be the Rangers, though.
Closers in baseball are in a tenuous position, where it's often about confidence. Soria is a seasoned veteran, but his 2.70 ERA doesn't transcend the mundane with regard to the game's best.
The Rangers have failed to address pitching in the past, evident in their 4.85 team ERA and .285 opponents' batting average in 2014. Now they have a potential midlevel starter to stash and develop in Thompson, who still has plenty of upside to explore. Plus, since Detroit just called up Knebel to contribute to its bullpen, Texas could benefit immediately from the 22-year-old's services.
It also helps that both Thompson and Knebel hail from the Lone Star State. That should only increase their incentive to continue performing well and contribute to a turnaround in Arlington.