When writing about the Jason Marquis trade, I noted that that Diamondbacks could still use a reliever, someone like Koji Uehara. Well, that idea is over and done with, because Uehara is the newest member of the reigning AL champion Texas Rangers. Baltimore receives Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter.
Uehara is having a fantastic year that is falling totally under the radar. He’s got a strikeout to walk ratio of 62:8 in 47 innings, but there’s a stat that could hurt him as a Ranger: he’s allowed six homers in that time period. Going from Camden Yards to the Ballpark in Arlington, where fly balls turn into home runs, could be a bad thing for him. Uehara is an extreme flyball pitcher, and really might not be a good fit in Texas. But honestly? The Rangers needed a bullpen arm, and Uehara was one of the best on the market.
The return for Uehara doesn’t seem like a lot. The main piece of the deal is first baseman Chris Davis, who burst onto the scene in 2008 with an .880 OPS in 80 games for the Rangers. The main knock on Davis throughout his career were his strikeouts, and he struck out 88 times that debut year. Since 2008, his OPS has gone down, and his strikeouts have gone up. This season for Texas, Davis has a .702 OPS (with a .299 OBP) and has 23 times in 72 at bats. He’s mashing in AAA though, with a 1.229 OPS in 48 games. He’s looking like a 4-A player though at this point.
As for Hunter, he has the ability that many of our recently traded players have today: the ability to not strike batters out. For his career, he’s struck out 5.10 batters per nine. He’s got good control, with a 2.50 walk rate, and has kept the ball on the ground well this year, with a 55% groundball rate (albeit in only 15 innings). He could be a good back-end of the rotation starter for Baltimore.
Overall, I think the Orioles could have gotten more value from another team for Uehara, as a guy with a ceiling as a fourth or fifth starter and a 4-A corner infielder don’t scream value for me. But both guys will get plenty of chances to prove themselves on a bad Orioles team. The acquisition of Davis could lead to Derrek Lee getting moved as well.