Texas Rangers rumors: Tampa Bay and Arizona are both reportedly in the market for relief pitching, an area where the Rangers have a fair amount of depth, leading one to wonder whether there might be the makings of a potential deal between Texas and one of those teams.
Marc Topkin with the Tampa Bay Times writes that, after dealing Jake McGee for Corey Dickerson, the Rays find themselves with a surfeit of hitters, and could look to move one of their outfielders for a relief pitcher. Topkin mentions Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer as possibilities, and either could potentially be a fit for Texas. Jennings is a former top prospect who was a solid 3-win outfielder from 2011-14, before missing most of the 2015 season with a knee problem.
Jennings doesn't hit a ton, but as a righthanded batter who can play center field and left field and who has some speed, he would seem to be a good fit for the Rangers, who need a backup CF who can handle a regular workload for if (or when) Josh Hamilton goes down. Jennings has two years of team control left and is under contract for $3.3M. He's an ideal buy-low candidate, though one would think the Rays would rather give Jennings a chance to get back on the field and rebuild some trade value before moving him.
Guyer, meanwhile, is a 30 year old righthanded hitter who has a career .260/.338/.393 slash line. He can play all three outfield spots but is more of a COF than a CF, and he has three years of team control remaining. While Jennings is a legit starting OFer when healthy, Guyer is more of a bench bat, but given the makeup of the Rangers' bench, he could be a fit as a 25th man, and would likely be less costly, in terms of talent parted with, to acquire than Jennings.
Meanwhile, via Bob Nightengale on Twitter, Dave Stewart says he's open to acquiring a late-inning reliever or a closer to add to the D-Back pen. Reports from earlier this winter had the D-Backs inquiring about Shawn Tolleson and Keone Kela, while the Rangers supposedly had interest in Archie Bradley, a top starting pitching prospect not too long ago whose 2015 season was de-railed due to injuries.
We have said before working a deal to bring Bradley to Texas for bullpen help would seem to be ideal, as the Rangers are looking to increase their starting pitching depth, and Bradley is a guy with a lot of upside who could compete with Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez for a spot in the rotation out of spring training, and who also can be optioned, giving you additional flexibility. With starting pitching in the upper minors being an organizational weakness after trading Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher to Philly last summer in the Cole Hamels deal, Bradley is the type of guy the Rangers would seem to be targeting.
With Tolleson, Kela, Sam Dyson, Tom Wilhelmsen, Tony Barnette, and Jake Diekman all seemingly locked into the major league pen, and Sam Freeman, Andrew Faulkner, Tanner Scheppers, Connor Sadzeck, and Luke Jackson knocking on the door (before getting to guys like Martinez, Anthony Ranaudo or Phil Klein, starters who could move to the pen), the Rangers would seem to be able to deal a relief pitcher or two without doing significant damage to what should be a team strength. Whether it is with Arizona or Tampa or someone else, I wouldn't be surprised to see Texas match up with another team to deal relief pitching to shore up another need.