The Hot Stove is white hot now with a rumor coming out that the Diamondbacks are interested in Texas Rangers relievers, Keone Kela and Jose Leclerc.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweeted out Tuesday afternoon that two of the Texas Rangers top relievers are drawing significant interest from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona is reportedly interested in closer Keone Kela and young talent, Jose Leclerc.
Keone Kela’s name doesn’t come as a surprise as he’s been one of the names most discussed in the trade market. Jose Leclerc comes as a bit of a shock however considering he’s been stellar this season and at 24 years old, he’s under control through 2022. Kela himself is only 25 and has cemented himself as one of the more electric closers in the game. He is under team control through 2022 as well.
In 2018, Keone Kela has been dominant in save situations. He’s converted all 23 of his save opportunities while posting an ERA of just 0.84. In those spots, he’s also struck out 30 while allowing just 5 walks and holding to opponents to a .167 batting average. Leclerc has been almost as equally dominant as a late inning reliever. In 36 games, he’s struck out a stunning 51 and maintained an ERA of just 2.08. With a WHIP of .971 which is among the best in baseball.
The Diamondbacks currently are 2nd in the NL West, only a 1.5 games back of the Dodgers. They currently sit just 1 game out of the NL Wild Card. Clearly a team in contention, Arizona seems to be looking to bolster their late inning bullpen as they chase a Dodger team that just acquired premier shortstop Manny Machado.
What Would a Deal Look Like
If the Rangers were going to part with one or both of their late inning gems, no doubt they’d want a pretty massive haul in return. With both players playing outstanding this season and under control for a few more years the Rangers aren’t in a place where their hand is forced to make a move.
In terms of prospects coming back to Texas in a deal for one of the relievers, the Rangers obviously will want young pitching. The problem is, Arizona really doesn’t have tons to speak of by way of top end pitching talent. The Rangers will no doubt want a Top 10 prospect paired with at least another Top 20 player to make a deal for Kela or Leclerc.
For Keone Kela, Texas would get the biggest return. Already an established closer, he still has upside and is under team control.
If Arizona went after Jose Leclerc, it probably wouldn’t include Duplantier just because Leclerc is less established than Kela. Still, three solid pitching prospects could make their way to Texas in a potential deal.
RHP Jon Duplantier
I’m really unsure whether the Texas Rangers could get Duplantier back in a deal as he’s Arizona’s top prospect. The 59th ranked prospect in baseball by MLB Prospect Watch, the Rangers should do everything they can to have Duplantier headline a deal for Kela or Leclerc.
LHP Alex Young
If the Rangers could secure Duplantier, then likely they would have to concede a bit on the value of any remaining players in a package. Alex Young, 24, fits right into the category of young potential Texas is seeking. The 22nd prospect in the D-Backs system, it’s still unknown whether he can translate as a big league starter but the talent is there which would intrigue the Rangers.
RHP Emilio Vargas
Emilio Vargas, 21, would give the Rangers a prospect with solid late inning potential. The 29th prospect in Arizona’s system, he shows a lively fastball with a deceptive slider. Currently still in Advanced A ball, he’s a few years away from the big leagues which will give Texas plenty of time to develop him as a player.
RHP Matt Tabor
A 20-year old in Short Season A ball, Tabor is a pickup that would be all about development. The 9th ranked prospect in the system, he has a lively fastball that plays in the bullpen but he could crack a mid-rotation spot. He would require the most time out of anybody on the list but still represents a solid prospect in return.
RHP Jhoan Duran
Duran, also a 20-year old righty, is a projectable pitcher with the possibility of being a number 3 or 4 starter. Currently in Single-A Kane County, Duran has an electric fastball that pairs nicely with a 6’5″ frame. MLB Prospect Watch has him as the 16th ranked player in the Diamondbacks system.
It’s unlikely that the Rangers would send both Kela and Leclerc to Arizona but if they did, the return would be incredible. That’s a move that could set Texas up for years to come.