The Texas Rangers lost again to Houston on Tuesday night 4-3 and that comes a night after the bullpen blew a three-run lead in the seventh and then couldn't keep Houston from scoring in the ninth. These two games have gone a long way to show the current issue with the team. The bullpen is about one or two pitchers short.
Aroldis Chapman had been electric until Monday night when his control abandoned him, but he is still a trusted member of the late-inning duo with Will Smith. The problem with the bullpen is when they have to go beyond Chapman and Smith. Leclerc is good but unreliable, Burke was great Monday night but is not regularly used, and then there are the rookies Owen White, the now-demoted Alex Speas, and Cody Bradford. This bullpen needs one or two more veteran arms that can pitch in the late innings and preferably right-handed. There is one pitcher in Pittsburgh who fits those needs. Let's take a look at David Bednar of the Pirates and how he would fit in with the Rangers bullpen.
Who is David Bednar?
Bednar was drafted in the 35th round in the 2016 draft by the San Diego Padres. He came up and pitched for San Diego in 2019 and 2020. He made four appearances in 2020 and was not on the postseason roster that season. In the offseason, Bednar was in a three-team trade that sent him to Pittsburgh among other pieces, and Joe Musgrove ended up in San Diego.
Bednar was being sent home as he was born in Pittsburgh. He immediately turned it around in 2021 and became closer by the end of the season. In 2022 he had 19 saves and made his first All-Star game. He came back in 2023 and is in the middle of the best season of his career. He made his second consecutive All-Star game this season and at this time has a 1.15 ERA and has already matched his career high with 19 saves.
What pitches does David Bednar throw?
Bednar is a right-handed pitcher who throws three pitches. He has a 4-seam fastball that averages 96.4mph, a curveball, and a split-finger. He throws the fastball 57.5% of the time and then the curveball 26.6%, and the split-finger 15.9% of the time. He has the most success with his fastball and curveball as hitters are hitting .148 against the fastball and .189 against the curveball.
Bednar's numbers across the board are excellent. He has 47 strikeouts to just nine walks. He has only allowed five earned runs this season. He is in the top six percent of the league in average exit velocity allowed as hitters are averaging just 85.8mph. He has only blown one save this season, but even then the Pirates came back in the bottom of the ninth to win it and he was given the win.
The final thing that makes him attractive as a trade candidate is he still has three more seasons of control after this season. This fact actually makes it less likely that Pittsburgh will trade him. He is a hometown kid and is not a free agent till after the 2026 season. The Rangers would not only be trading for Bednar for this season, but he would be in place to close out games for this team for the next three seasons. It would be the longest someone has served in the closer's role for this organization since John Wetteland served as closer from 1997-2000.
Where Does Bednar fit with the Texas Rangers?
Bednar would be a perfect fit as a right-handed late inning option for Bochy. It would give Bochy three options to close out games with Bednar, Chapman, and Smith. In the postseason he can pitch Bednar between Chapman and Smith. Bochy would know that if he can get his starter through six that he should be able to call on those three to close out games.
Right now, Texas is having issues getting the games to Chapman and Smith in the eighth and ninth innings. On Monday night Bochy went to Chapman in the seventh to face the top of the order. It did not work out as Chapman walked two batters and then gave up a game-tying home run to Chas McCormick. Burke pitched the 8th and then Bochy went to Speas in the ninth to get the game to extras. He was saving Smith for a potential save situation in the 10th. If Bednar was on the squad he could have gone to Bednar or Smith knowing he would still have one or the other for a save situation in extra innings. The Rangers really need that three-headed monster and right now it is just a duo.
What would it cost to acquire Bednar and is he available?
The word from baseball reporters such as Jon Heyman is that the Pirates are listening on Bednar. Heyman tweeted this out on Monday.
That does not mean he is available, it just seems like Pittsburgh is content to hold onto him unless a team blows them away with an offer. The Pirates got off to a good start and where in first place on May 1st with a 20-9 record. Since then the Pirates 24-48 are now in last place in the NL Central.
Bednar is likely the best reliever on the market unless San Diego makes Josh Hader available. Lets work what Milwaukee acquired in the Hader trade last summer. In 2022 the Padres traded Robert Gasser, Dinelson Lamet, Taylor Rogers, and Esteurys Ruiz to the Brewers for Josh Hader. Gasser was the Padres 9th best prospect heading into the 2022 season. Lamet and Rogers were both major league relievers and Ruiz was not among the Padres best 29 prospects heading into the 2022 season. He had spent some time with the Padres but played most of the season prior to the deadline in Triple-A.
The Rangers could offer the Pirates Aaron Zavala, Dustin Harris, Antoine Kelly, and Cody Bradford for David Bednar. That is a trade that Pittsburgh would not hang up on. Zavala is a good hitter with a good approach at the plate. Dustin Harris could step in and help the Pirates this season in both the outfield and first base. Antoine Kelly throws hard from the left side and has shown success in the bullpen this season. Cody Bradford looks like a future starter who could help Pittsburgh right away.
Texas gets their closer for 2024 and beyond and Pittsburgh gets players that fit their timeline of trying to win in the near future. This trade also protects several of the Rangers' top prospects and allows them to continue to chase a starting pitcher and a bat that could help this organization.