Rangers land Brewers closer to fortify back end of already-strong bullpen
By Ryan Posner
ARLINGTON -- In the Trade Deadline deal that landed them catcher Jonathan Lucroy from Milwaukee on Monday, the Rangers also bolstered the back end of their bullpen by acquiring Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress. The price was steep, however: highly touted prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz and a player to be named.
Jeffress, 28, had 27 saves for the Brewers this season with a 2.22 ERA in 47 games in the first full-time stint as a closer in his seven-year career. He won't be closing for the Rangers, at least right away. Sam Dyson has entrenched himself since taking over for Shawn Tolleson on May 18, picking up 22 saves in 24 opportunities.
"You're talking about a guy who has just an electric arm. He really has kind of found his niche in the back of the bullpen," said Jon Daniels, the Rangers' president of baseball operations and general manager. "Some similarities to Dyson and how he goes about it with the power sinker. Has some experience now in the ninth, if needed. Hopefully that's not the case, but always good to have multiple guys who can go back there."
Jeffress will join the back end of a Rangers bullpen that has found success with left-hander Jake Diekman and right-hander Matt Bush leading up to Dyson. Tony Barnette has been exceptional as well in his rookie season at 32 years old, pitching to a 2.08 ERA through 41 games, and Keone Kela is back after undergoing right elbow surgery in April.
"With all the guys in the bullpen now, we feel that we only have winning pieces," Daniels said. "You can go to any one of these guys in any spot. [Jeff Banister] and his staff have a comfort zone there. We know how things go with a season this long -- you're going to need depth."
Jeffress joins Alvarez and Harrell as the team's only pitching acquisitions before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rangers were expected to be active in the starting-pitching market with right-hander Colby Lewis and left-hander Derek Holland both on the 60-day disabled list since the end of June.
Lewis and Holland haven't had any setbacks in their respective rehab work, and are expected back in the rotation by the end of August.
"As we were putting everything together there just weren't deals that we were comfortable with," Daniels said. " … We weren't prepared to go way beyond [our comfort zone] in part because we've gotten good reports on these guys coming back."
Daniels lauded the performances of A.J. Griffin and Martin Perez in the team's four-game sweep of the Royals over the weekend. They were the first Rangers starters to pick up wins besides Cole Hamels in over a month.
Harrell was solid as well in his Rangers debut on Sunday, giving up three runs on four hits in six innings on his way to the win.
"It's a long season. We're going to need more. It's the reality of it," Daniels said. "If the right deal was there, we would've made the move. It just wasn't there."
Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.