Texas Rangers transactions: Adrian Sampson, righthanded pitcher, has had his contract purchased by the Texas Rangers today, the team announced. To make room for him on the 25 man roster, the Rangers optioned lefthanded reliever Kyle Bird to AAA Nashville. To make room for him on the 40 man roster, the Rangers transferred pitcher Yohander Mendez to the 60 day injured list.
Sampson, 27, was a Pittsburgh Pirates fifth round pick in 2012 who was traded to the Seattle Mariners for J.A. Happ at the trade deadline in 2015. The Rangers claimed Sampson on waivers in November, 2016, and while he missed much of 2017, he had a nice 2018 season for AAA Round Rock, and made four starts and a relief appearance at the end of 2018 in the majors for Texas.
Sampson was non-tendered and then re-signed to a minor league deal, and he had a strong camp that had him in contention for a roster spot until the very end of spring training. He was originally slated to be in the Nashville rotation, but with the Rangers’ starting pitchers not going deep in the first three games, and with Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller, both coming off injuries, due to pitch the next two games, the Rangers apparently decided he was needed now as a long man. Sampson appears to have at least one option remaining, so the Rangers could send him down later this year without putting him on waivers.
Bird was acquired in the Jurickson Profar trade from Tampa Bay, and also had a solid camp, but he struggled to throw strikes in his first major league action in the Chicago Cubs series, and with the Rangers needing a reliever besides Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy who can go multiple innings right now, Bird was the odd man out.
Mendez is rehabbing an elbow injury, and was expected to be out until at least the second half, so his being moved to the 60 day i.l. is simply procedural.