It’s not a big as “the Trade” that netted five players for Mark Tiexiera, and that made Jon Daniels as a GM.
It’s not as important as the Hamels trade that turned around a Rangers struggling season and propelled them to a division title.
But yesterday’s trade with Seattle may have been Daniels’s craftiest yet. If he doesn’t know how to trade on Forex, he really should learn, skills and perception are paramount and he has them.
Most Rangers fans would have been happy to get a bucket of used practice balls for Leonys Martin. What the Rangers got, in fact, was a very good reliever, a power pitcher who has had success in the recent past as a closer.
Tom Wilhelmsen has the kind of arm that makes good bullpens better. To get him, all Daniels had to do was give up a guy who cannot hit for average, cannot hit for power, has speed but hasn’t been able to convert that into anything tangible on the basepaths, does not steal but does get thrown out trying, gets to a lot of fly balls, but take curious routes to others, and has a cannon for an arm but is susceptible to over using it.
Wilhemsen is a thirty-two-year-old (he’ll be thirty-three in a few weeks) right-handed relief pitcher who was a very effective closer for Seattle, saving twenty-nine games in 2012 and twenty-four games in 2013.
The return for Leonys Martin—a guy who lost his job, lost his roster spot, then lost the patience of his general manager by refusing assignment in the Fall League—was quite significant. Martin and Anthony Bass—who wasn’t in the long-term picture for the Rangers anyway—went to Seattle for Wilhemsen, centerfielder James Jones, and a player to be named later. Jones has the effective speed the Rangers were never able to get from Martin. In 108 games for the Mariners in 2014, Jones hit .250, stole twenty-seven bases but was caught stealing only once.
So, basically, the Rangers got a slight upgrade of one back-up centerfielder for another. And they got a huge upgrade of one relief pitcher for another.
Wilhemsen should give Banister one more reliable arm in the bullpen he can wear out on a nightly basis to go with Kela, Dyson, Diekman, and Tolleson. He gives Banister one more guy who can close after he’s used Tolleson five straight nights.
In losing Martin, the Rangers did, however, lose their lead alto in their clubhouse choir.
All in all, it was a great start to the offseason for Jon Daniels. And for the Texas Rangers. And for Rangers fans. And for humanity.