The Rangers have traded closer Joakim Soria to Detroit for Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, a pair of Texan righthanders ranked this month by Baseball America as the Tigers’ number two and number four prospects, respectively.
The 20-year-old Thompson, the Tigers’ first pick in 2012 out of Rockwall-Heath High School (in the second round, as Detroit had forfeited its first-rounder by signing Prince Fielder), was promoted last week to Class AA by the Tigers, while the 22-year-old Knebel, the Tigers’ supplemental first-round pick in 2013 out of the University of Texas, started the season in Class AA but bulleted his way to the big leagues by the end of May.
Scott will have more in the morning on Thompson (reportedly headed to Frisco) and Knebel (reportedly headed to Round Rock — perhaps to groom for the newly vacated ninth-inning role if Neftali Feliz can’t claim it), but I will say this for now: The Rangers have just added two power arms, one projected to be a mid-rotation starter and the other a late reliever, both of whom should be ready to contribute when this club’s window reopens. And for what it’s worth, I would consider Thompson and Knebel each a better prospect than any of the four that the Angels traded days ago to San Diego for Huston Street.
It’s a disappointment when a season unfolds in such a way that you are trading your closer late in July, but that’s where we are, and Texas had an opportunity to upgrade the pitching inventory in the upper half of the system and executed on it.
There’s one clear objective when you’re a contending team signing a veteran closer, but there’s a fallback upside there, too, and while the Rangers didn’t sign Joakim Soria coming off Tommy John surgery so they could rehabilitate his trade value, they got some really good work out of him over two years and have the chance now to extend his worth to this franchise for a lot longer than that, if Thompson or Knebel or both develop into contributing pieces to the next Texas club that spends July in its more familiar spot, looking for pieces to themselves over the top.