Last night, the Tigers and Rangers got together on a trade involving now-Tigers reliever Joakim Soria, and now-Rangers pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. The two young arms were top five prospects in the Tigers’ soft system, but it’s a really nice haul for a reliever (albeit one that offers an affordable team option in 2015 ($7 million)).
Once again, the impact here, in terms of direct market, is probably pretty minimal for the Cubs. Soria is pitching at an elite level this year, and is in a different tier from any reliever the Cubs would be shopping right now (primarily James Russell, Wesley Wright, and Carlos Villanueva). It looks like the Rangers got a nice return for Soria, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Also, the Tigers were long in the market for a reliever, but a late-inning impact type. So the market for those types of relievers shrunk by one, but, again, not much impact to the Cubs.
Instead, the impact(s) here is (are) more peripheral. For one, the Tigers are now improved heading down the stretch, which could affect the way the Indians and Royals approach the deadline (though they are 6.5 and 7.0 games back in the AL Central, respectively). It may not necessarily make them aggressive buyers, either, given that the perceived distance between them and the Tigers just increased. Will other AL competitors feel enough pressure from the Tigers with respect to a move like this to respond? Eh. Nah. The teams looking ahead the playoffs are going to want to improve regardless of the Tigers’ bullpen situation.
There’s also the matter of the Rangers continuing their sell-off. It could accelerate in the coming week, which could further damage their 2014 performance. In a race to the bottom, the Rangers are looking pretty good to “win,” especially if they sell off another couple useful pieces.
Lastly, it’s another elite reliever off the market, leaving very few of that type left. The more of ‘em gone before next week, and the more attractive marginal bullpen upgrades look. But, remember to be realistic: there are a whole lot of those marginal bullpen types available.