The AL West-leading Texas Rangers have made their first move to get more pitching, acquiring right-handed starter Lucas Harrell and left-handed reliever Dario Alvarez from the Atlanta Braves for an infield prospect.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday that Texas may not be done shopping for pitching with the non-waiver trading deadline five days away. He said there are still ongoing conversations with other teams but didn't get into details.
"We'll see where they go. I can't really handicap it at this point," Daniels said. "But yes, that's still our focus."
Harrell has gone 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA for the Braves this season since having his contract purchased from Triple-A Gwinnett on July 2. The 31 year old earned the win with six shutout innings in his final start with the Braves Tuesday night at Minnesota. The sinkerballer pitched in Korea last year after appearing in 88 major league games (62 starts) the previous five seasons for the Chicago White Sox (2010-11) and Houston (2011-14), where he worked with current Rangers pitching coach Doug Brocail.
The Rangers sent 2013 first-round pick Travis Demeritte to Atlanta. They needed a starter for Sunday's series finale at home against Kansas City, and Daniels said the plan for now is to start Harrell then.
In his last start for the Braves, Harrell threw six scoreless innings Tuesday night in a win at Minnesota.
Alvarez has gone 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA over 16 relief appearances for the Braves since being recalled on June 14. The 27-year old fanned 9 consecutive batters faced over 3 games from July 2-7, setting an Atlanta franchise record.
"Looking at both of the pitchers we got, we feel like they can help our club," Daniels said. "They fill roles on the club, they add depth."
The deal was announced before Wednesday night's game against Oakland, when right-hander Yu Darvish made only his third start for Texas since coming off the disabled list. It was only Darvish's sixth start this season after missing all of last year following Tommy John surgery.
Cole Hamels (11-2), who the Rangers acquired from Philadelphia before the deadline last July, starts Thursday in the series opener against Kansas City.
Two other starters, right-hander Colby Lewis (right lat strain) and lefty Derek Holland (shoulder inflammation) are on the 60-day disabled list and could be back by late August.
The Rangers had one open spot on their 40-man roster and designated Triple-A Round Rock infielder Matt Duffy for assignment to create another spot. They will have to make moves on their 25-man roster when Harrell and Alvarez join the team, which could be as early as Thursday.
Atlanta, with the worst record in the majors, had added Harrell and Alvarez from other organizations within a week of each other in May.
Harrell signed a minor league contract with Detroit on March 1 and was released May 16 before signing a minor league deal with the Braves on May 21. Alvarez began this year in the New York Mets organization before he was designated for assignment on May 23 and sent Atlanta on a waiver claim May 25.
"You look at two guys that weren't even with our system in the middle of May, and now they did well enough that a contending team wants them," Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. "That says a lot for what they accomplished here."
The 21-year-old Demeritte was in the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego earlier this month. In 88 games with Class-A High Desert, the second baseman batted .272 with 25 home runs, 59 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.