Rangers add to bullpen depth by landing Adams
Texas native excited to be heading home, join pennant race
TORONTO -- The Rangers, putting their faith in a deep farm system, acquired reliever Mike Adams from the Padres for highly-regarded pitching prospects Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland on Sunday afternoon.
Those were two pitchers the Rangers appeared to be reluctant to give up but did so for Adams, a right-hander who was 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in 48 appearances for the Padres. Opponents are hitting .155 off him. Adams and Koji Uehara, who was acquired from the Orioles on Saturday, give the Rangers two proven setup relievers in front of closer Neftali Feliz.
"We're excited about our club," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We've liked our team all year and we made it pretty clear what area we wanted to upgrade. Koji and Mike were at the top of the list and we were able to acquire both in traditional baseball deals. We gave up four good players, but we got two players that fit an area of need."
Both are also under control to the Rangers for next season. Adams still has one year of arbitration eligibility left and can't be a free agent until after the 2012 season. For that reason, it was believed that the Padres would keep Adams and trade Heath Bell, who could be a free agent after this season.
"It's quite a bit of a shock, the past couple of days, with the way the trades had been going," Adams said. "I didn't think I was going anywhere, but things happen, and things happen fast. That's the baseball world. I'm excited about it.
"I came in this morning, honestly, expecting to be preparing to start being the closer. Obviously that didn't happen. I'm still a little bit in shock about the whole situation. There are a lot of good people in the clubhouse that I'm going to miss."
This deal came down because the Rangers were persistent in their desire to get Adams rather than Bell. Daniels conveyed that to the Padres.
"He made it clear he wanted Mike," Padres general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It was very hard to part with Mike. He's been one of the best setup guys in baseball for a number of years. I think Texas just got a guy who can totally lock down the eighth inning for them and probably close for them next year.
"It was tough to lose Mike, but we'd scouted very well [and] targeted all along Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, both very young, very polished starting pitchers that we think aren't too far away from the big leagues. They're not there yet, but they're not too far away and we think they can have a lot of success in this ballpark and in this division."
Having Adams for 2012 made it more palatable for the Rangers to hand over two excellent pitching prospects.
"It's not about the next two months, but that's a priority," Daniels said. "We're in a window where we have a chance to win. We don't want to take that for granted. Our players deserve it and our fans deserve it."
The cost for Adams was high. Erlin was the fourth-ranked prospect in the organization by MLB.com and was 8-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 19 starts and one relief appearance in the Minor Leagues. Wieland is not ranked, but that was only a temporary condition. He is 10-3 with a 1.80 ERA in 20 starts and one relief appearance in the Minors, including 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in seven starts at Double A Frisco. He threw a no-hitter on Friday night against San Antonio.
The Rangers still believe their farm system is deep in pitching. They have three on the immediate horizon at Triple-A Round Rock in right-handers Eric Hurley (6-0, 3.73 ERA) and Neil Ramirez (4-3, 3.68 ERA), and left-hander Martin Perez, who was just promoted after his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game. He is 1-2 with an 8.10 ERA in just three starts but is the No. 1 ranked prospect in their system and No. 9 in the MLB.com Top 50.
"We traded two quality young pitchers," Daniels said. "I expect both will pitch in the big leagues and have long careers. Some pitching prospects are paper-created, I don't think Robbie and Joe are in that category. But you have to give up quality to get quality.
"Mike has been one of the most dominating late-inning relievers in the game, and that's what we are looking for."
Adams has been that not only this season but over the past four years. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, he has a 1.66 ERA that is the lowest of any qualified reliever in the Majors. Opponents over the past four years are hitting .177 off him, fifth lowest of any reliever.
Adams has also averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings in those four years with 4.08 strikeouts for every walk. This season, he has 49 strikeouts to nine walks in 48 innings.
"We've seen him from '07 to now become one of the best relievers in the game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I can see that continuing. In the last couple of years, he's been mentioned as a possible All-Star. He was close this year to being an All-Star. He's got some great years ahead of him as a relief pitcher in the game."
Adams has been pitching at PETCO Field, which is considered one of the most favorable pitchers' parks in the league, and has a 0.75 ERA there. But he has a 1.50 ERA on the road. He has also allowed just one run over 13 appearances in which he was being used without a day of rest.
Adams mainly relies on a fastball that averages 92.5 mph and a slider that he throws about 61 percent of the time. He has a changeup that he almost never uses.
He is also a native of Texas. He is from Sinton down near Corpus Christi, played baseball and basketball at Texas A&M-Kingsville. He is a big Cowboys fan and wore his Miles Austin jersey to the ballpark on Tuesday not realizing he will soon be pitching right down the street.
"It's going to be hot," Adams said. "That's one thing I'm not prepared for. At the same time, I'm going back to Texas, back home and that should be a lot of fun. I'm excited about the opportunity to go over there and pitch in a pennant race. I've said it before, I play to win. This past month has been frustrating."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.