The Seattle Mariners have acquired RHP Rafael Montero from the Texas Rangers in exchange for RHP Jose Corniell and a player to be named later.
Since hiring Chris Young to be their new General Manager, the Rangers have been hyperactive, although it is unclear how much of that is Young, and how much of it is Jon Daniels, the former GM who is still the team president. First, ace Lance Lynn was dealt to the White Sox, and then the Rangers brought in Nate Lowe in a six player deal with Tampa Bay. This is the smallest deal of the three, although Montero was the Rangers' primary closer for most of 2020 after Jose LeClerc went down with a shoulder strain. The hard-throwing righty returned from Tommy John surgery in 2019, and had the best year of his career after finally becoming a full-time reliever. Then, Montero had a 2.48 ERA and a 10.6 K/9. His numbers over two seasons in Texas are not bad, although he only pitched in 39 games for the Rangers. I need a full season in the bullpen out of Montero before I'm convinced that he can be a legitimate late inning reliever, even for a bad team. The Mariners are that bad team, and in 2020 they had an atrocious bullpen. Of the 10 relievers to pitch in at least 10 innings, Yohan Ramirez was the only guy with an ERA under 4.00. It gets even worse when Yoshi Hirano is a free agent, Taylor Williams, who led the team in saves last year, was traded, and both Dan Altavilla and Austin Adams, key members of the 2019 bullpen, are teammates with Williams in San Diego. Reinforcements are needed, and even if the Mariners do not want to compete in 2021, Montero cannot be the only addition.
Montero, 30, saved eight games with a 4.08 ERA, 19 strikeouts and a 1.019 WHIP in 17.2 innings for the Rangers in 2020. In his MLB career for Texas and the New York Mets, Montero has an ERA of 4.93 with 242 strikeouts and a 1.565 WHIP in 239 innings.
Helping a division rival fulfill their greatest need is never the best strategy, but when you are coming off of a 22-38 record, these things don't matter as much. You would have to assume that the player to be named that the Rangers will receive will be more notable than Corniell, a 17 year old pitcher who the Mariners signed out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2019. He is yet to play in a minor league game.