Andrew Bailey delivers a pitch on July 16th, 2011. He's one of several key relievers that the Rangers are inquiring about.
The Texas Rangers are the hottest team in Major League Baseball right now. After putting away the offensively-defunct Seattle Mariners 5-1, they have increased their winning streak to 10 games—the longest streak of the 2011 Major League season.
Their starters have been outstanding over their last 10 games, and Alexi Ogando—arguably their best pitcher—will get to come back early this week after a nice rest of 12 days. And now that they have a three game lead over the Angels, optimism is high for a strong run through the last half of the season.
Regardless, the Texas Rangers are looking to improve a bullpen that has been a weak spot all season long. And if the Texas Rangers want to make a move to bolster their bullpen, they'll have the next two weeks to get something done, before the non-waiver Trade Deadline comes to a close.
Here's a look at five relievers the Texas Rangers have shown interest in acquiring.
Andrew Bailey probably wants a trade just so he'll never have to wear stomach-bile yellow again.
As is true with all proposed trades, either team has got to seriously consider if what they're offering isn't too much for what they'll receive. And when it comes to a trade with fellow AL West team, the Oakland Athletics, the Rangers certainly don't want to give up any prospects that the A's can use against them in the coming years.
According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, what the A's wanted from the Rangers for Andrew Bailey is so ludicrous it's laughable. Even more side-splitting and guffaw-inducing than many writers' predictions that the A's would win the AL West in 2011.
The A's want three players in return—which is reasonable—but of those three, two are Chris Davis and Martin Perez, which makes their request foolishly far-fetched.
Wherever Bailey lands, he'll be under that club's control through 2014, which is nice, but clearly the A's are asking too much. Chris Davis and a lower-level pitching prospect should've done the trick.
Dropping the name of one of the Rangers' vaunted "Killer P's" in Martin Perez might be enough to shutdown trade talks between these two teams for the remainder of the season.
Perez was just called up to Triple-A, Round Rock last week, and to trade him at this point would surely prove that Rangers' GM Jon Daniels has gone completely insane.
Mike Adams a key reliever for the San Diego Padres.
Until recently, all the trade buzz in regards to the San Diego Padres had revolved around one man, their closer Heath Bell. Now two additional names have popped up, according to "Major League Trade Rumors.com."
Heath Bell is being actively shopped, but per T.R. Sullivan's MLB.com article, the Texas Rangers have been told that he is not available.
Adams—born in Corpus Christi, Texas— would be a perfect fit for the Texas Rangers' bullpen. Over the last two years he's been arguably the best middle reliever in all of Major League Baseball.
This season has just added to his mystique, as he has a less-than-microscopic WHIP of 0.71 and 41 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched.
The Padres' reluctance to trade Adams probably stems from their extreme efforts to move Heath Bell. Adams is possibly their closer-in-waiting. It can always change in the near-future, but as of now, Mike Adams is off limits.
Well, at least they didn't insult the Rangers by asking for far too much in return (shame on you, Oakland).
Nuñez is much taller than 80-year-old Marlins' skipper Jack McKeon.
Leo Nuñez is the Florida Marlins' closer. His numbers aren't quite as mind-boggling as the aforementioned Adams, but he's a proven closer with excellent stuff and is in the midst of his finest season yet—already with 25 saves on the year.
He's also five years younger than Adams, which is always a plus.
Nuñez is a free agent after this season, so should he land in Texas, the Rangers will have a shot to either re-sign him or possibly get compensation from the Marlins in the form of future draft picks.
Much like Bailey, Nuñez could either be a stop-gap closer or a key middle reliever specializing in an eighth inning set up role.
Has been roughed up at times this year, but is still producing a solid year for a bad team.
Coming into the 2011 season, Joakim Soria had been one of the best closers in the game since he took over that role for the Kansas City Royals mid-way through his rookie season in 2007.
However, over a five-game stretch this past May, he pitched so poorly that he temporarily lost the closer's role to rookie Aaron Crow. That's what blowing four saves in five opportunities will do to you every time.
Since that rough stretch, Soria has reclaimed the closer's role and has pitched pretty well. He might be the least impressive pitcher on this list in terms of stuff, but he'd be an excellent eighth inning man for the Rangers—one that would make the bullpen better immediately.
Soria is in the last year of a three-year contract with the Royals, so there really isn't much risk for whomever acquires his services for the remainder of the year.
Gregerson is a member of one of the game's best bullpens in San Diego. That is, until they all get traded away.
Once again trade rumors circulate around a member of the San Diego Padres' bullpen. Wow, if the Padres could just give this bullpen some leads to work with, they could be a favorite in the NL West.
This time it's big right-hander Luke Gregerson who slides into the speculation.
Gregerson became a known quantity after putting together two very nice seasons in relief for the Padres in '09 and '10. In both of those years, Gregerson averaged over 10 strikeouts per inning pitched, while providing excellent middle-relief.
Gregerson is a distant third in terms of perceived value in the Padres bullpen (with Bell and Adams far ahead of him). This might mean that the asking price could be the lowest as well—which is a plus.
My only concern over bringing in Gregerson is that his strikeout rate of last year has been cut in half this year. This may lead to injury concerns—or it could be just mere coincidence. Gregerson has still maintained his ability to keep the ball in the park—always a plus for any pitcher at Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington.
Gregerson's key appeal is that he is low-cost—he's making $448K—and is in the last year of his contract. A pick up of Gregerson by the Rangers would be similar to picking up a Mike Adams two years ago—acquiring a pitcher before he becomes a well-known "name."
It's almost certain that in a mere two weeks, the Texas Rangers will have at least one new name helping to anchor their bullpen as they ready themselves to defend their 2010 AL Championship.
Sources cited: MLBTradeRumors.com and TexasRangers.com. All statistics provided by Baseball-Reference.com.