The Texas Rangers have traded lefthanded reliever Robbie Ross, Jr., to the Boston Red Sox for righthanded pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo.
This is a trade that came out of nowhere, and is particularly surprising given that Ross appeared to be the best lefty reliever option for 2015 in the organization. A 2nd round draft pick in 2008 (and the 2nd best 2nd round pick, in terms of career bWAR, in Rangers history), Ross came out of nowhere to win a spot in the Rangers' bullpen in 2012. Ross was a very solid reliever in both 2012 and 2013, although he also wore down as the season went on in both years.
2014, unfortunately, was a disaster, as injuries resulted in Ross making the Opening Day rotation, flaming out after a solid first few starts, getting sent to the minors, and then never really getting back on track. Ross's primary issue when he has struggled has been the natural cut on his fastball resulting in the pitch staying out over the plate, resulting in him being way too hittable.
The departure of Ross means that the only lefthanded reliever on the 40 man roster is Alex Claudio, although Michael Kirkman will be in camp on a minor league deal, and Ross Detwiler would likely go to the bullpen if he doesn't make the Opening Day rotation. Still, this just increases the likelihood that the Rangers go get a lefthanded relief pitcher from outside the organization.
As for Ranaudo, he was drafted out of high school by the Rangers in 2007, though he slipped in the draft because of bonus demands and a strong commitment to LSU, and the Rangers were unable to sign him. Ranaudo then was selected 39th overall by the Red Sox in the 2010 draft, and has slowly made his way up through the system. Ranaudo posted a 2.96 ERA in 140 IP in 2013, splitting time between AA and AAA, and then put up a 2.61 ERA in AAA in 138 IP this year, along with a 4.81 ERA in 7 starts in the majors for Boston.
Ranaudo throws a low-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. Though his stuff gets good reviews, he didn't strike out a ton of guys in the minors, and he's a fly-ball pitcher.
Ranaudo will presumably get thrown into the mix with Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, and Ross Detwiler, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation in spring training, and providing AAA rotation depth if he doesn't break camp with the team. He seems to profile as a potential back-end starter or relief arm, with a decent chance of ending up with a career spent bouncing between AAA and the majors, but the ceiling for Ranaudo seems higher than that for Ross, who appears capped out as a reliever.
This is a strange trade to me. The Rangers have a lot of young righthanded starting pitchers right now, and a dearth of lefty relievers, so from a need perspective, it is a bit baffling. Ranaudo seems unlikely to make the Ranger rotation, is going to be behind Chi Chi Gonzalez and Jake Thompson in terms of future value among the righties in the upper minors.
I don't think it is a bad trade, but it just seems weird to me.