ARLINGTON — The Texas Rangers opened the trade deadline early this year by trading for Royals reliever Aroldis Chapman, the club announced Friday afternoon. Texas sent lefty Cole Ragans and minor league outfielder Ronnie Cabrera Instead of Kansas City.
Chapman, 35, has gone 4-2 with two saves and a 2.45 ERA (eight earned runs in 29 1/3 innings) in 31 relief appearances for the Royals this season. He has struck out 53 of 122 batters (43.4%), while being among the top American League relievers in strikeouts (53), OPS (.483) and batting average (.158).
“We’re excited to have (Chapman),” said Rangers general manager Chris Young. “We think he fills a need in our bullpen in terms of swing-and-miss (ability) and being able to pitch in leverage situations in the back of the bullpen. We are thrilled to welcome him to Rangers.
The 35-year-old posted a 2.25 ERA from 2012–21, before struggling to a 4.46 ERA in ’22 with the Yankees. He signed a free-agent deal with the Royals this winter. Young said that the club had been following Kansas City and Chapman throughout the year, and that the Rangers felt as though they had returned to their previous form.
Young said, “I think what we’re looking at is a pitcher who’s really back to pitching the way he pitched a few years ago.” “Fastball is electric, slider is great. He has two variations of the fastball, the sinker and the four-seamer and he’s really, really hard to hit, you know? were excited. We think he fits our bullpen needs in terms of swing-and-miss and being able to take advantage of the back of the bullpen.
Chapman has converted 317 of 357 (88.8%) save opportunities in his career, the sixth highest save percentage in MLB history (minimum 100 save options) behind only Eric Gagne (91.7%), John Smoltz (91.1%), Craig is behind. Kimbrel (89.4%), Joe Nathan (89.1%), and Mariano Rivera (89.1%).
Although Young said it was too early to say whether Chapman would be the new Rangers closer, he did not rule out the possibility.
Young said, “I’ll let (manager Bruce) Bochy talk more about it, but I think we plan to use (Chapman) the same way Kansas City did.” We’ll see how it develops.”
Will Smith has served as the Rangers’ closer for most of this season, going 14 of 15 in save opportunities with a 2.73 ERA.
The rest of the Rangers’ bullpen has struggled to a 4.65 ERA entering Friday’s matchup with the Astros, which is 11th-worst among MLB bullpen. The only relievers other than Smith with sub-4.00 ERAs are Josh Sborz (2.43), Brock Burke (3.30) and rookie Grant Anderson (3.06).
Now, after acquiring Chapman, the Rangers have a bit more firepower coming out of the bullpen.
Despite the obvious struggles, Texas has something to work with with Chapman in the bullpen. He is fourth in xwOBA, fifth in WHIP (1.22), sixth in walk rate (7.9%) and around the league-average K rate (23.1%). The biggest issue comes with a 67.2% strikeout rate, the second worst in baseball and better than the A.
Young said, “It was really the opportunity that presented itself at this point.” “I think the main reason for this is how well the team has played. It was pretty clear earlier this month that we were going to be a buyer and it’s a little different than the last few years when I was employed, which is fine.
“I think taking early action gives us an extra month of Aroldis Chapman, and I think that’s a great thing for our team. He has playoff experience, obviously, an electric arm and will make our team better. He will improve our bullpen and, you know, hopefully it will get us in a better position to win games next month.
Young emphasized that the Rangers did not plan to add weapons before the deadline. The goal is still to win the World Series, and they will do their best to improve the club in order to do so.
Young said, “If we weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be doing my job.” “As I said before, we will continue to improve our club by any means necessary. It can be internally as well as externally. But we have a good group of guys who have played very well so far, and we want to continue doing that in the second half of the season.