After helping bolster the Texas Rangers’ bullpen en route to AL West titles in both 2015 and 2016, Sam Dyson is likely on the move. The former Rangers closer was designated for assignment by the team on Friday, ending a rather successful run at the back of the club’s bullpen.
The reason for the move was obvious; Dyson has struggled in a big way this season, allowing a 10.80 ERA in 16 2⁄3 innings. His command failed him, as he walked more batters (12) than he struck out (7) in that time. He started the year as the team’s closer, but was demoted after blowing his first three save opportunities in April. The team tried to give him work in lower leverage situations, but rough outings against the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays over the past week-plus sealed his fate.
Dyson’s track record speaks for itself, though. He was Texas’ most valuable reliever over the past two years despite spending the first four months of 2015 with the Miami Marlins. He finished his Rangers career with a 3.45 ERA and 92 strikeouts to 39 walks in 118 1⁄3 innings, and finished third in the American League with 38 saves last season.
Naturally, teams will be interested in acquiring that player on the cheap. The Rangers expect to find a trade partner for Dyson, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. While MLB Trade Rumors lists the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins as the current frontrunners, the Detroit Tigers could always nudge their way into the conversation. Detroit has perennially been looking for relief help, and they have a history of being infatuated with pitchers who fare well against them; Dyson’s best outing of the season came on May 21 when he struck out three Tigers hitters in 1 2⁄3 strong innings.
However, there are a couple problems with that narrative. While the Tigers’ overall numbers aren’t great, their bullpen has been much better recently. Justin Wilson, Alex Wilson, and Shane Greene have locked down the late innings, with Blaine Hardy, Chad Bell, and Warwick Saupold chipping in here and there. Their bullpen as a whole sported a 3.56 ERA in May, the fifth-lowest figure in the American League. Dyson could be a nice addition if he rediscovers his command and power sinker, but the Tigers might not be willing to gamble on that now that they have a recipe for success in the late innings. Plus, Francisco Rodriguez is already occupying low leverage situations in hopes of rehabbing his value.
Additionally, the Tigers don’t seem too interested in adding payroll. General manager Al Avila told reporters that he believes their issues are “fixable right here in house” on Friday, and that the team was not likely to add salary at this year’s trade deadline. The Tigers themselves may ultimately become sellers as well, giving them little reason to fork over valuable prospects in exchange for a gamble — albeit a potentially worthwhile one — in Dyson.