The Texas Rangers traded right-handed closer Keone Kela late Monday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates for their No. 7 prospect, left-hander Taylor Hearn, and a player to be named.
The Rangers and Pirates initially said the trade was for two players to be named because the Pirates couldn’t reach Hearn, who is from Royse City. The 6-foot-5 Hearn, who turns 24 on Aug. 30, has hit 98 mph with his fastball, and his best off-speed pitch is a changeup.
Hearn is 3-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 19 starts for Double A Altoona. General manager Jon Daniels said that the Rangers won’t pick the player to be named for a least a few weeks.
“We’re comfortable with the deal we got,” Daniels said. “It’ll be easier when I can tell you the players that were bringing back. You’re talking about bringing two players in the organization that have a long runaway ahead of them.”
Daniels said that the Rangers are still working on other trades ahead of Tuesday’s nonwaiver trade deadline (3 p.m. CDT), but he doesn’t next expect to trade third baseman Adrian Beltre.
“It would take a unique circumstance,” Daniels said. “It’s a tough thing to lineup. We’ve talked to some clubs, but my expectation is he will be here with us. That could change tomorrow, but if I had to guess ... .”
Kela had been of interest to several contenders and was the focus of Daniels and his staff the past few days. The 25-year-old converted 24 of 25 save chances for the Rangers this season, finally realizing the potential the club believed he had.
Kela was told of the trade before the eighth inning. At the time, the Rangers were looking at a save situation and they didn’t want him to begin the process of getting ready for the game.
He skipped Triple A in 2015 when he made the Rangers’ roster out of spring training. After a successful first season, he dealt with injuries the next two and also was embroiled in a controversy before last season after some disruptive behavior at the end of spring training in 2017.
The Rangers optioned him to Triple A Round Rock and didn’t allow him to fly from Arizona to Texas on the team charter at spring camp broke.
During his farewell interview with the media, he spoke of how much he has matured and how grateful he is to the organization that drafted in the 12th round in 2012.
“I’m still a little in shock, but I’m excited that it’s a new beginning, a new journey,” Kela said. “I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to play here in Texas and all the support from the fans. I’m still a young man, but I definitely came from being a little boy when I signed at 19 years old.”