Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Case for keeping Kela not strong enough for a rebuilding team

Having made five bold Texas Rangers predictions for the second half to kick off, well, the second, here are three predictions for the trade deadline.

They really aren’t very bold.

Adrian Beltre stays.

Jake Diekman goes to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I go to the hotel bar once all is said and done.

Guaranteed: 1 for 3. Feel good: 2 for 3.

Speaking of the Diamondbacks ...

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from the Rangers’ 9-5 victory over the Snakes and more assorted trade stuff, beginning with Keone Kela getting dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1. A few Twitter followers made the case for not trading Kela, and until late Monday it seemed possible that the Rangers might not find a contender willing to meet their high demands for the closer.

He’s young (25) and healthy, has legit closer stuff, is under club contractual control through 2020 and has been accountable with the media. The Rangers drafted him and developed him, and were reaping the benefits.

There wasn’t a burning need to trade him by Tuesday even though the Rangers are rebuilding. It wouldn’t have been their last opportunity to get something good for him, and the offers might have been more plentiful.

However ...

He’s young and healthy, has legit closer stuff, is under club contractual control through 2020 and has been accountable with the media. His stock might never be higher.

Closers, as recent Rangers history says, are finicky.

They also can get expensive, even in their arbitration years, and the Rangers rarely put big bucks into their bullpen. Besides, how important is a top-flight closer to a team that is rebuilding?

It turns out there was a need to trade Kela. He was one of the few players on their roster who would give them a significant return.

A team can’t rebuild without quality young players.

2. As these things can go, the announcement of the Kela trade was for two players to be named.

That set off some genuine rage on Twitter, if you can believe that, as fans assumed that the trade wasn’t for anyone significant.

Patience is generally required when it comes to the Rangers announcing a trade. They don’t want the involved parties to learn about the trade on social media, which happened to a vacationing Ian Kinsler in 2012 (he was traded Monday to Boston) and to Matt Harrison in 2015.

The issue wasn’t on the Rangers’ end. The Pirates were having trouble reaching the one player the Rangers did choose, left-hander Taylor Hearn. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s from Royse City.

He also throws 98 mph and has harnessed some control issues that have bitten him in the past. So far this season, he is 3-6 with a 3.12 ERA with 38 walks and 107 strikeouts in 104 innings for Double A Altoona.

So, Daniels did get somebody for Kela. Hearn was the Pirates’ No. 7 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Baseball America didn’t have Hearn in its top 10 of Pirates prospects and said his future is likely in the bullpen unless he can develop a slider to go with the heater and a nice changeup.

The Rangers are going to give him a chance to start, though their closer role is now a tad unsettled. Jose Leclerc has earned a look, and Diekman could take the ninth inning if he isn’t traded away Tuesday.

That’s a pretty big if.

3. The Rangers also need quality youngish players who have been around awhile to turn things around, and Martin Perez is one of them. He’s been better than he was against Arizona, but he’s also been a lot worse.

Consider it a good start, one shortened because the Rangers couldn’t let him bat in the sixth in a 4-4 game with the bases loaded and two outs. Willie Calhoun pinch-hit and delivered an RBI single.

Perez wasn’t every good in the first, though he recovered to limit the Diamondbacks to one run. He deserved better in the fifth, but he couldn’t pitch around the extra out an Adrian Beltre short-hopped throw to second gave Arizona.

Steven Souza Jr. got a ball just over the left-field wall for a three-run homer. All three runs were unearned.

Souza hit a hanging curveball, which otherwise was a good pitch for Perez. He struck out five, though two were pitcher Robbie Ray. Hey, at least he didn’t give up a hit to the pitcher.

For those scoring at home, that’s three good and one bad for Perez since coming off the disabled list. The bottom line is he has been much better, pitching more confidently and looking like someone the Rangers would want to keep around.

They hold a $7.5 million club option for 2019 that comes with a $750,000 buyout, and also hold a $9 million option ($250,000 buyout) for 2020. They have one starter signed for the 2019 rotation in Mike Minor, two for those (like me and Eddie Butler) who are bullish on Eddie Butler getting a shot.

Perez knows he needs to make the Rangers exercise the option. He’s off to a good start toward reaching that goal.

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