Texas Rangers

First of many? Rangers trade Chavez to Cubs

Jesse Chavez rebounded from a slow start to become one of the Rangers’ top relievers in 2018 and a trade chip. He was dealt to the Cubs during the All-Star break.
Jesse Chavez rebounded from a slow start to become one of the Rangers’ top relievers in 2018 and a trade chip. He was dealt to the Cubs during the All-Star break. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The selling is underway at Globe Life Park.

The Texas Rangers shipped veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez to the Chicago Cubs late Thursday night for minor-league pitcher Tyler Thomas in their first trade of a big leaguer ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Chavez can be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Rangers had recently started to showcase him in the later innings after he opened the year as the long man.

After a sluggish start, he became a valuable piece and leaves the Rangers with a 3-1 record, a 3.51 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.

“Jesse was awesome for us, on and off the field,” Daniels said. “He provided key innings in a variety of roles and veteral leadership.”

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has been staying busy with conversations with contending teams ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Thomas has posted some impressive numbers in his first full professional season. The Cubs’ seventh-round pick last year, the left-handed Thomas went 3-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 15 games/14 starts at Low A South Bend with 88 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 75 innings.

As a general rule, rental relievers don’t command a big return. Thomas was not ranked in the Cubs’ Top 30 prospects by either Baseball America or mlb.com. The Cubs’ farm system is rated No. 28 by Baseball America.

Thomas, who went to Fresno State, joins a large group of prospects below Double A. Two of those prospects, 2016 first-round Cole Ragans and second-rounder Alex Speas, underwent Tommy John surgery this season.

“Tyler can command three pitches, including a very good changeup,” Daniels said. “He’s competitive, knows how to pitch, and has had success at every stop. We liked him as an amateur and are happy to add him to our system now.”

General manager Jon Daniels spoke to the media earlier Thursday but didn’t indicate that any trades were near completion. He did say, however, that he expected several relievers baseball wide to change hands ahead of the deadline.

Lefty Jake Diekman is also expected to be moved, and closer Keone Kela has been drawing interest from contenders. The Rangers’ two biggest trade chips are Adrian Beltre and Cole Hamels.

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