The Detroit Tigers agreed to acquire right-handed reliever Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers, in exchange for righties Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel late Wednesday night, the teams announced.
The Tigers had been interested in Soria prior to the deal, and back on July 18th, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the sides were having "ongoing discussions" over Soria. The Tigers had also been interested in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Tigers were "locked in" on acquiring Soria and did not heavily pursue the ex-Tiger Benoit.
On the season, the 30-year-old Soria has been fantastic. He is 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.07 FIP in 33.1 innings pitched, recording 17 saves in 19 opportunities. Soria has a 42 to 4 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the year. He has yet to allow a single home run on the season. However, the price tag on Soria may have been a bit high -- he is a free agent following this season, after signing a two-year, $8 million contract with the Rangers before the 2013 season that has more than paid for itself.
In return for the reliever, the Rangers will be getting two intriguing prospects. Right-hander Jake Thompson is one, who was the Tigers second round pick back in 2012. He progressed through the minors nicely, and at age 20, he is already pitching in Double-A. On the season for the Tigers affiliate in Erie, Thompson is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and a 3.49 FIP in 2 starts. He was just promoted from Single-A Advanced Lakeland, where he went 6-4 with a 3.14 ERA and a 3.11 FIP in 16 starts.
The Rangers will also be receiving Corey Knebel, who has appeared in the major leagues already this season. In a short stint with the Tigers that lasted eight games, the 22-year-old Knebel, who was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, had a 6.23 ERA and a 1.64 FIP, striking out 11 and walking three in just 8.2 innings pitched. On the season for Triple-A Toledo, Knebel is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA and a 3.00 FIP in 18.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen.
Both Thompson and Knebel landed on the Tigers top ten prospect list from Baseball America prior to the season. Thompson came in at fourth on the list; while Knebel came in at sixth. Both look like superb acquisitions by the Rangers.
Even giving up two pitching prospects, the Tigers filled the gaping hole that was in their bullpen. Soria is a great addition to a bullpen that posted the fifth-highest ERA (4.37) and sixth-highest FIP (3.92) in the major leagues coming into today. Soria will join a bullpen that includes the likes of Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol, and Blaine Hardy. He may move into the closer role, where Nathan has struggled on the season, but will definitely be a back end force for Detroit.