Texas Rangers transactions: The Rangers have acquired pitcher Nate Jones, international bonus slot money, and cash considerations from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league pitchers Joe Jarneski and Ray Castro, the team announced today.
This deal is, I think, all about Bayron Lora. Lora, one of top international free agents available in this year’s J-2 signing period, has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Rangers, but because of other signings the Rangers have made, they did not have enough slot money available to officially sign Lora. Texas had to acquire additional slot money somewhere (something they’ve generally done in most years since the international slot system was put in place), and this deal reportedly gets them $1 million, which should allow them to sign Lora, or get them close enough that they just have to acquire a small additional amount of international slot bonus money.
The Rangers are taking Jones as part of this deal, and my guess is that Jones, who is on the 60 day injured list with a flexor tendon injury and will not pitch again this year, is part of the price Texas had to pay to get the slot money. He is owed around $2 million for the rest of this season, and has a $5.15 million team option for 2020 with a $1.25 million buyout. While it appears Chicago is sending some money along with Jones in this deal, Texas likely is also paying some of his salary. This is Texas taking a player and some of his salary in order to incentivize the other team to make the trade — kind of like how the Rangers took Austin Jackson last year in order to get Jason Bahr and Cory Gearrin from the Giants.
Jones has had success in the past, so it is possible the Rangers might decide to exercise his 2020 option and keep him around if they feel he’s recovering well from the flexor tendon injury. The 33 year old righthanded reliever has a career 3.12 ERA in 291.1 IP over 284 games.
The Rangers gave up a pair of fringe pitchers in this deal. Jarneski was an above-slot 12th round draft pick in 2017 out of Hawaii — he’s 19 years old and has a 1.62 ERA in 16.2 IP for the AZL Rangers. Castro is a 22 year old righthander who is still toiling in the Dominican League. He’s an organizational depth guy, while Jarneski is a lotto ticket/fringe prospect type.
UPDATE — T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers will decline Nate Jones’ 2020 option, which would make it clear he’s in the deal basically to give the White Sox some salary relief, tantamount to the Rangers paying the White Sox for the bonus slot the Rangers are getting.