Desperately needing to replenish their starting rotation, the Rangers picked up three pieces in the trade deadline yesterday: a catcher, a DH, and a closer.
Welcome to the new Rangers:
Jonathan Lucroy, catcher.
Lucroy, like Hamels last season, has been on the Rangers trade radar since spring training. The Rangers have needed catching for a number of years, always plugging in whoever they could find at the last minute.
They were helped early this season when their mediocre catching cadre way overperformed. But one thing about baseball is that it’s the great equalizer. A .240 hitter mostly hits .240.
Robinson Chirinos is a .226 hitter who was at .192 when they decided he was no longer going to be the number-one catcher. Bobby Wilson is a .212 hitter who was rapidly on his way back there.
So, the acquisition of Lucroy (and Jeremy Jeffress) from Milwaukee for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and a player to be named later (I hope they name him Tanner), immediately betters the offense by a wide margin. To begin with, he is an All-Star catcher who is currently hitting .299, with fifty RBIs. The combined efforts of Chirinos and Wilson were at .224 with thirty-nine RBIs.
In the past five seasons, Lucroy ranks second in OBP, third in batting average, slugging percentage and WAR (Worthless Ass Research), and eighth in home runs for all catchers.
Defensively, there is no contest. Lucroy is one of the better catchers at throwing out runners, framing pitches and the other important catching numbers. Chirinos is one near the bottom. Reports are, pitchers love throwing to him because he calls a smart game.
Look at who the Rangers have had at catcher the last five years since Mike Napoli: Robinson Chirinos, Bobby Wilson, Bryan Holiday, Carlos Corporan, Chris Giminez, Tomas Telis, Geovany Soto, A. J. Pierzynski, and Yorvit Torrealba.
Lucroy is a two-time All-Star, including this season. With Lucroy, the Rangers instantly go from catching being an afterthought to catching being strength.
Carlos Beltran, DH, right field.
The American League Rookie of the Year in 1999 with Kansas City, Beltran has been an All-Star nine times, including this season, won three Gold Glove Awards, and two Silver Slugger Awards. He’s a switch hitter. And he shines in post-season, being nicknamed “the new Mr. October” by people other than his agent.
Beltre is tied (with a guy named Nelson Cruz) for ninth most post-season home runs. And after his magnificent 2012 post-season, he became the all-time post-season leader in MLB history in post-season OPS, better than the next two guys you may have hear of: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The thirty-nine-year-old has played in fifty-two post-season games, never on a World Series winning team, though.
Beltran joins the Rangers with twenty-two home runs, the most on the team, a .304 average, also the highest on the team, a tick higher than Ian Desmond’s .303, and sixty-four RBIs, second to Adrian Beltre’s sixty-five. Meaning, he is one RBI short of the Rangers Triple Crown.
To put it in another context, he is replacing Prince Fielder. In twenty more at-bats, Beltran has forty more hits, fourteen more home runs, twenty more RBIs and about a million more chances of making a difference.
Carlos Beltran instantly becomes the best hitter in the Rangers’ lineup. He was traded for pitcher Dillon Tate, the Rangers number one draft pick in 2015 along with pitchers Erik Swenson and Nick Green.
Jeremy Jeffress, relief pitcher.
Right-hander Jeffress was the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers, with twenty-seven saves and just one blown save. He is 2-2, with an ERA of 2.22 and a WHIP of 1.25. This is his seventh major league season, having spent time with Kansas City and Toronto as well as Milwaukee.
By comparison, he and Sam Dyson have very similar numbers. Dyson has twenty-two save with two blown saves, and a 1-2 won-lost record. His ERA is 2.42 on the strength of a 1.14 WHIP.
Jeffress is not expected to be the closer. But is it nice to have another closer ready to go. After all, closers are a dime-a-dozen. It’s good to know the Rangers have another option.
Jeffress takes a lot of wobble out of a very shaky bullpen.
Yu Darvish (2-2, 3.09) vs. Dylan Bundy (3-3, 3.46)
Game time: 6:05 pm