After striking first in the trade market, with the early deal to get Aroldis Chapman at the end of June, the Texas Rangers have been fairly quiet. They have made a few minor league deals, but nothing of significance. The rival Houston Astros on the other hand, made a splash yesterday while also taking a trade target off the board.
Houston was able to trade catcher Korey Lee to the Chicago White Sox, for quality reliver Kendall Graveman. Graveman is no stranger to the Astros or the AL West. Six of his nine seasons in the major leagues have come in the division, including four in Oakland, one and a half in Seattle, and the end of the 2021 regular season and playoff run with Houston. The Astros know Graveman well, and will gladly take a repeat performance from the veteran righty this season. Graveman was lights out for the Astros in the playoffs in 2021, something that the Rangers will have to now find elsewhere.
The Rangers have been in the market for additional bullpen help for quite some time. Graveman appeared to be a possible good fit for Texas for a number of reasons. He is a righthanded pitcher which we need to add to the lefthanded heavy pen, he has excelled in high leverage situations both in the regular season and in the playoffs, and he is under team control for one more season. That means that he will be a big player for the remainder of this season and 2024 as well. Those are all the same reasons that the Astros pushed to get a trade done for Graveman yesterday.
He will help bolster an already solid bullpen in Houston and make getting runs late against the defending champs even harder than it already has been. Currently the Astros bullpen ERA sits at 3.83 while the Rangers have the fourth highest in MLB at 4.83. There are other relievers out there that the Rangers are working hard to get, but it did seem like Graveman could have been a nice addition for the club.
It is interesting to see what the Astros had to give up in order to get the trade to the finish line. In a bold prediction article last week, Michael Sanders wrote about a potential trade between the White Sox and the Rangers for Graveman. In his article, he had Justin Foscue and Jonathan Ornelas going to the White Sox. According to Baseball America, Foscue is the number five prospect in the organization and Ornelas is the 28th. They have Lee, who the Astros sent to Chicago, in the one for one trade, as the 29th ranked prospect in the Houston organization. MLB pipeline does slot the 2019 first rounder, Lee, into the 13th spot for the White Sox.
Losing out on Graveman isn't the end of the world, but it is just another quality arm out of the pen that the Rangers will have to face this year and next when going up against the Astros. The battle for the AL West and the playoffs in general is causing quite the demand for arms of all types. With four days before the trade deadline, rest assured that Chris Young will be working to add some top arms to the bullpen and probably the rotation as well. He has shown a propensity to hold his cards close to his chest, and this trade deadline is playing out just that way. We know something is coming but might not have a real idea of exactly what until it is a done deal.