Rangers send Davis, Hunter to Baltimore for Uehara

By Jeff Wilson

TORONTO -- One piece of relief help has been acquired for the stretch run, and it might be the only piece the Texas Rangers add before the non-waiver trade deadline arrives this afternoon.

They landed right-handed reliever Koji Uehara from Baltimore late Saturday afternoon for infielder Chris Davis and right-hander Tommy Hunter.

Uehara isn't just a two-month rental. The deal also includes $2 million to cover the rest of his contract, which pays him about $1 million this year and vests for 2012 at $4 million if he makes 12 more appearances or finishes six more games.

General manager Jon Daniels said that work will continue ahead of today's 3 p.m. deadline, but it's possible that no other reliever will be joining the Rangers for their pursuit of a second straight American League West crown.

"This takes the edge off, so to speak," Daniels said after the deal became official around 8 p.m. "I wouldn't rule anything out, but this is a sizable acquisition and really fills a need for us. It allows us to take a step back and re-evaluate."

Uehara, 36, is a veteran of Nippon Professional Baseball and is in his third season in the major leagues.

He was a signed as a starter in 2009 and transitioned into a relief role after an elbow injury.

He has flourished in the Orioles' bullpen, posting a 2.27 ERA, a .187 opponents' batting average and a .217 opponents' on-base percentage in 86 appearances.

Uehara is in the midst of the best stretch of his career, posting a 1.09 ERA in his past 30 games. In his career, he has walked only 25 while striking out 165 in 1572/3 innings.

Uehara doesn't overpower hitters, but uses a deceptive delivery and a plus changeup to get outs. His fastball sits only in the upper 80s.

"He's done it in the American League East," Daniels said. "He's got an ability to make guys swing and miss, and we felt like he was a good fit for our club."

Trading Davis doesn't come as a surprise. He said it became clear that his future might be elsewhere because Mitch Moreland and Michael Young are sharing time at first base.

Davis expects to be given a chance for an everyday job with the Orioles, who could trade first baseman Derrek Lee. If Lee stays, it's unlikely that he would re-sign next season.

"This is probably the best thing for me now," said Davis, a Longview native who was the Rangers' fifth-round pick in 2006. "I'm going to miss this clubhouse, but I think it's really exciting to go to another organization and be a guy they're excited about."

Hunter was surprised to learn that he had been dealt.

He went 13-4 last year and made three starts in the postseason. He was named to the Rangers' rotation in spring training, only to suffer a groin injury a few hours later.

He finally returned July 2 as a reliever. With four of the five starters locked up for next season and the possibility that C.J. Wilson will return, Hunter had also hit a roadblock.

"We have five guys who are pitching at a really high level," Daniels said. "We didn't necessarily move any pieces that we felt were going to be long-term fits for us."

The Rangers have been linked to San Diego closer Heath Bell, but Daniels said that he would be satisfied with the composition of the bullpen if the Rangers can't find another deal.

The Padres have scouted Double A Frisco and are believed to have interest in left-hander Robbie Erlin and right-hander Joe Wieland, who tossed a no-hitter and faced the minimum 27 batters Friday night.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760