Texas Rangers: Team turned Rafael Montero into two prospects
By Seth Carlson
One of the Texas Rangers’ most valuable bullpen assets is going to Seattle in a trade with the Mariners.
Has new Texas Rangers‘ GM Chris Young turned into a protégé of Seattle Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto?
The latter has developed a reputation in baseball for being one of the most active executives on the trade market, and it looks as though Young has taken a page out of Dipoto’s book.
With Tuesday’s announcement of right-handed reliever Rafael Montero being traded to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for pitching prospect Jose Corniell and a player to be named later, the Texas Rangers have now completed their third major trade in the last two weeks.
The team sent veteran righty Lance Lynn to the Chicago White Sox for Dane Dunning and Avery Weems and acquired first baseman Nate Lowe from the Tampa Bay Rays during last week’s Winter Meetings.
As Texas embarks on a rebuild, a sturdy bullpen unit becomes a luxury rather than an explicit need.
Therefore, with multiple talented arms in their stable, the Rangers were able to deal from a position of strength.
They did just that with Rafael Montero.
Montero was originally a product of the New York Mets, but flamed out there before eventually being released by them.
The 30-year-old reliever then latched on with the Texas Rangers on a minor-league pact prior to the 2019 season after not having pitched in the big leagues at all in 2018.
Montero’s first campaign in the Rangers’ bullpen was largely a success, as the right-hander sported career bests in ERA (2.48), ERA+ (210) and WHIP (0.97) while posting his lowest career walks per nine inning rate (a scant 1.6 BB/9), albeit in just 29 innings pitched.
He followed up his brilliant 2019 with a less dominant but still solid 4.08 ERA, 113 ERA+, 3.70 FIP and 1.02 WHIP in 17.2 innings pitched for Texas in 2020.
It’s evident that Montero found something in Arlington that he couldn’t muster up while in New York.
Perhaps it was his move to the bullpen, as he had been a starter with the Mets and suffered various injuries there while never quite living up to his top billing.
Now, Montero will be a factor late in games for the division rival Seattle Mariners starting in 2021.
In the exchange, Texas was able to poach two prospects from their Northwest rivals, a potentially significant development as Seattle starts to emerge from their rebuild.
Normally, teams refrain from in-division trades, but in the Rangers’ case, acquiring two young players from the Mariners will hopefully pay large dividends down the road.
In righty pitcher Jose Corniell (just 17 years young), Texas is acquiring a consensus Top-30 system prospect (No. 22 in Seattle’s system according to Baseball America, No. 24 according to MLB Pipeline) who will become one of the Rangers’ next pitching development projects, along with the recently acquired lefty Avery Weems.
Corniell was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Seattle Mariners in July 2019, immediately slotting into their prospect ranks that year.
The young hurler has yet to make his professional debut, but is expected to report to the Texas Rangers’ Low-A affiliate to begin 2021 with the elimination of the Rookie Leagues.
Corniell possesses above average control and a plus fastball, both of which could make the 17-year-old a potential starter down the road for Texas.
However, Corniell is still far too young to make any reasonable projections regarding his future at this point.
The second piece in the trade is listed as a player to be named later (PTBNL), so while we don’t know who that might be (and won’t for a while), we can only hope that the player possesses at least some sort of upside.
Overall, the Texas Rangers did extremely well to turn a player signed to a Minors deal in Rafael Montero into a legitimate asset plus another potential piece as Chris Young and company begin to shape this team in their image going forward.