The Texas Rangers traded closer Rafael Montero of Higuerito, Dominican Republic on Tuesday. In return, the Rangers received pitching prospect Jose Corniell and a player to be named later according to Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors.
The Mariners become Montero’s third Major League Baseball team. In addition to playing the last two seasons with the Rangers, Montero played four seasons to begin his MLB career with the New York Mets.
Last season with Texas, Montero pitched 17 games with the Rangers, and had a record of zero wins, one loss, and an earned run average of 4.08. In 17 2/3 innings, he gave up 12 hits, eight earned runs, six walks, and one hit batsman. Montero also had 19 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.02.
This was the first time that Montero was in the closer’s role. He had six saves in the month of August, and two saves in September. Montero was late starting the season for the Rangers in 2020, as he began the year on the injury list with right elbow tendinitis.
Montero has had his fair share of injuries over the years. In 2015, while with the Mets, he was played on the 60-day disabled list with a swollen rotator cuff. Then Montero missed the entire 2018 season with Tommy John surgery when he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Jose Leclerc of Esperanza, Dominican Republic is expected to resume closer duties for the Rangers in 2021. The righthander has had 29 saves for the Rangers over the last five seasons, including a career-high 14 saves in 2019. In 2020, Leclerc only pitched in two games due to a right shoulder strain. Leclerc’s ailment opened the door for an opportunity for Montero to be Texas’s closer in 2020.
With the Mariners, Montero has the potential to be Seattle’s opening day closer. However, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Mariners are looking closely at signing free agent Blake Treinen to fill the closer void. Taylor Williams led the Mariners in saves in 2020 with six, but had an awful earned run average of 5.93 before being traded to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline.