The Texas Rangers are all in to win their first World Series title in club history.
On Monday, shortly after landing Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees, the team with the best record in the American League acquired both Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named later.
The Brewers initially agreed to deal Lucroy to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday for four prospects. However, one of the teams on Lucroy's no-trade clause were the Indians, and the catcher vetoed the deal to join the AL Central leading Indians. Texas was not one of the teams on his no-trade clause, leaving him no choice but to join the Rangers.
Lucroy is regarded as one of the best catchers in baseball, and rightfully so. The all-star is enjoying one of the best seasons in his career, hitting .299 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs through 95 games with the "Brew Crew". The Rangers will have a $5.25 option for the 30-year-old to continue to play with them next season, which they will almost certainly pick up before he can sign anywhere in 2017.
This season was the first time Jeffress was a closer in the major leagues, and he took full advantage of it. The 28-year-old has converted on 27 of 28 save opportunities in 2016, striking out 35 in 44.2 innings with a 2.22 ERA. Jeffress has consistently been a solid option out of the bullpen ever since coming up with the Brewers in 2010, posting a career 2.93 ERA in seven seasons.
Going Milwaukee's way is the No. 21 prospect in baseball Brinson and the No. 63 prospect Ortiz, both according to MLB.com. Brinson, an outfielder, is hitting .237 with 11 homers, 40 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in 77 games with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. Also with Frisco, Ortiz is 1-4 with a 4.08 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. Many expected Joey Gallo would likely be heading to Milwaukee if they parted ways with Lucroy, but that is not the case.
This was not the only deal for either team on Monday. As mentioned, Beltran was acquired from the selling Yankees, as the Rangers had to deal former No. 4 overall pick Dillon Tate along with three other players. Milwaukee traded another reliever earlier in the day, as they parted ways with southpaw Will Smith to get No. 65 prospect Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac from the San Francisco Giants.
Rangers bolster lineup, bullpen with trade
The Rangers came just one series short of their first World Series title in both 2010 and 2011, and were even one strike away from the title in 2011. However, they have moved on, and GM Jon Daniels knows that they may have another shot to get back to the "Fall Classic" in 2016. The Rangers may have surprised people with their stellar play, but with the new additions, they may be looked at as favorites to win the American League pennant.
Adding both Lucroy and Beltran to the lineup, the offense may be one of the best in baseball moving forward. A potential lineup includes Jurickson Profar, Nomar Mazara, Ian Desmond, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, Mitch Moreland, Jonathan Lucroy, Rougned Odor, and Elvis Andrus. Wow.
The offense has already been tremendous for the Rangers, as they rank fourth in runs, hits, home runs, and batting average in the American League. Robinson Chinros will see less playing time as a result for the trade, hitting just .192 as the primary catcher for the Rangers this season.
The lineup was already great, but filling in a .192 hitter with one of the best catchers in baseball is huge.
The bullpen, on the other hand, needed another arm very badly. Their 4.78 ERA is the third worst in baseball, as well as the worst in the American League. Their .273 opponent batting average, and 53 homers allowed are also the worst in the American League.
Adding Jeffress will help that, as the hard-throwing right-hander will provide support to Tony Barnette, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson. Dyson has served as the closer for the Rangers, converting on 22 of 24 save opportunities with a 2.42 ERA. Shawn Tolleson was the closer to begin the season, but was replaced by Dyson on May 17th after posting a 9.20 ERA and converted on just 11 saves in 15 opportunities. In addition to Dyson, Diekman has been solid, as the lefty has a 2.37 ERA and just a .153 opponent batting average in 38 innings. Tony Barnette has been the surprise of the season in relief, as the right-hander has posted a 2.08 ERA in 41 relief appearances.
Despite being a reliable closer for Milwaukee, Daniels made it clear that Dyson will not lose his role as the closer. As he did to begin his career, Jeffress will slide once again to middle-relief as he hopes to help his new team reach their World Series goal.