NEW YORK The Rangers traded away closer Joakim Soria but received two former top 100 draft picks from the Tigers, both of whom just happen to be native Texans and grew up Rangers fans.
Corey Knebel, the former Texas pitcher who made his big-league debut this season, and Jake Thompson, a Rockwall High grad who has a four-pitch arsenal and is “built for innings,” were sent in return for Soria.
Knebel, 22, was the 39th overall pick in the 2013 draft, and Thompson, 20, was the No. 92 selection in 2012 and turned down a scholarship offer to TCU. Both were signed by Tigers scout Tim Grieve.
General manager Jon Daniels, who brokered the deal, spoke to both right-handers.
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“I could tell both guys were excited to come back home and play with the team they grew up rooting for,” Daniels said.
Knebel will be optioned to Triple A Round Rock, though it seems unlikely that he will be there long. Thompson will be assigned to Double A Frisco, and the Rangers will call up a pitcher Thursday to replace Soria.
Expect Neftali Feliz to get the first crack at replacing Soria as closer.
“The Feliz of old is an elite, dominating closer,” Daniels said. “We’ll see.”
Soria said that he is looking forward to joining a contender and is willing to be a setup reliever ahead of closer Joe Nathan.
“It’s going to be my new team,” Soria said. “It’s going to be my new family. I’m going to do whatever they need me to do. I want to help them get to the World Series.”