TORONTO — General manager Jon Daniels said that the Texas Rangers got their man Sunday afternoon, and it wasn’t the man most expected them to get from San Diego.
But beauty, said Daniels, is in the eye of the beholder. They coveted Padres setup man Mike Adams over three-time All-Star closer Heath Bell, and the Rangers now believe their bullpen is a knockout.
Adams was acquired for pitching prospects Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin in a deal that added another tough right-hander to pitch ahead of closer Neftali Feliz for the Rangers’ stretch run.
Adams and Koji Uehara, who was acquired Saturday from Baltimore, will work the seventh and eighth innings. The Rangers’ bullpen is now able to shorten a game to six innings with three pitchers who can dominate late.
“We helped ourselves tremendously,” manager Ron Washington said. “If our starter can give us only six innings, we’ve got the people who can continue to shorten the game. If our starter gives us seven, we’ve got some choices what we can do to get it to Neffy.
“Our bullpen just got strengthened, and now it’s up to us to hold onto leads when we’ve got them.”
Adams and Uehara, both right-handers who will be with the Rangers through next season, are two of the best setup relievers in the game. Only one reliever in the majors, San Francisco righty Sergio Romo, entered Saturday with a lower opponents’ on-base percentage (.183) this season than Uehara (.191) and Adams (.197).
Adams’ 1.13 ERA is the third-lowest in baseball.
A native of Sinton, near Corpus Christi, and a huge Cowboys fan, Adams said that he also expected that Bell would be the Padres reliever who was traded.
“I came in this morning, honestly, expecting to be preparing to start being the closer,” said Adams, who has 49 strikeouts and only nine walks in 48 innings this season.
“It’s quite a bit of a shock. With the way the trades had been going, I didn’t think I was going anywhere. But things happen, and things happen fast. That’s the baseball world. I’m excited about it.”The Rangers got a sneak peek at Uehara on Sunday at Rogers Center. He needed only eight pitches to retire Toronto in order in the seventh inning in his debut.
He arrived early Sunday from New York, where the Orioles had been playing the Yankees. He admitted that leaving Baltimore was difficult, but the prospect of pitching in the postseason makes the Rangers an attractive team.
“I would love to experience that,” said Uehara, a two-time selection as the top pitcher in Japan who also has flourished in international tournaments. “I enjoy that kind of environment. People will know about you when you pitch in a big game. That’s motivating, too.”
The Adams trade cost the Rangers two of their top 10 prospects. Wieland, a right-hander, and Erlin, a lefty, started the year at Class A Myrtle Beach and had been promoted to Double A Frisco.
Wieland tossed a no-hitter Friday at San Antonio, facing the minimum 27 batters.
The cost to get Adams and Uehara, who came in exchange for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter, was steep, but Daniels said the Rangers needed to strike to stay ahead of the LA Angels in the American League West.
“We traded two quality young pitchers [for Adams] who I expect to pitch in the big leagues and have long careers,” Daniels said. “We gave up four good players, but we got two guys who fit a need for us now and will be here past this year.”
The Rangers will wait until Tuesday before making a roster move to add Adams. Yoshinori Tateyama, who has options remaining, is a candidate to be taken off the roster, along with Arthur Rhodes and Scott Feldman.