Texas Rangers transactions: Kyle Bird has been recalled from AAA Nashville, and Locke St. John’s contract has been purchased from AAA Nashville. To make room for Bird on the 25 man roster, Joe Palumbo has been optioned to AAA Nashville. To make room for St. John on the 25 and 40 man roster, Drew Smyly has been designated for assignment.
This sequence of moves seemingly was necessitated by the Rangers going two straight games with their starters not working deep into the game, and needing some fresh arms for the bullpen. The Rangers have an off day on Monday that allows them to skip the fifth starter spot, meaning that Palumbo can go to AAA for the time being, giving them effectively a 9 man bullpen.
It is noteworthy that Palumbo is going to Nashville — he’s never pitched at AAA — rather than to Frisco, though with Brock Burke close to returning and the potential for promotions from high-A Down East, Frisco’s rotation may be getting crowded, and Palumbo has pitched well enough to have earned a spot at AAA, where he can face more experienced hitters and continue working on his command.
Bird, of course, has been up before, and is a lefty relief pitcher who came over from Tampa Bay in the Jurickson Profar trade. St. John is also a lefthander, and is sort of a poor man’s Alex Claudio, a submariner who has a quality changeup and doesn’t throw hard. His changeup and his command, however, are reportedly not at Claudio’s level, and so there are questions about how he might fare in the majors. That said, as a former minor league Rule 5 pick, him just getting to the majors is significant.
Finally, this would appear to be the end of the Rangers road for Drew Smyly. The Rangers have 7 days to waive, trade or release him, and he almost certainly will end up being released. He could theoretically take an outright assignment to AAA Nashville to work on trying to get his command back, but it seems more likely he would become a free agent and see what options are out there.
UPDATE — The Rangers will not be skipping the fifth starter spot. Instead, per the beats, they will be using Jesse Chavez as the starter on Tuesday, although this seems to be him opening for 3-5 innings as part of a bullpen game, versus him being a 90-110 pitch “starter.” It appears he will be in the rotation for the time being.