In some last-minute shuffling as teams set their rosters for Opening Day, the Athletics, Cubs and Rangers pulled off a three-way deal on Friday. Oakland sent utilityman Freddie Bynum and lefthander John Rheinecker to Texas for righthander Juan Dominguez, and the Rangers then swapped Bynum to Chicago for lefthander John Koronka and a player to be named later.
The deal immediately pays off for Bynum and Koronka, who will begin the season in the majors, with Koronka serving as the Rangers’ No. 5 starter. Dominguez and Rheinecker likely will open the year in Triple-A.
Dominguez, 25, has the most upside of any of the players in the deal, but he wore out his welcome in Texas with repeated displays of immaturity in the past and an inconsistent performance this spring training. He divided 2005 between the minors and the majors, going 4-6, 4.22 in 22 games (10 starts) with the Rangers. He had a 45-25 K-BB ratio in 70 major league innings, while opponents batted .277 with 11 homers against him. At his best, Dominguez shows a 92-94 mph fastball and a plus changeup. His stuff has been down this spring, and his lack of an effective breaking ball can hamper his effectiveness. He has a career 5-10, 4.60 record in 32 big league games (17 starts).
Bynum, 26, was Oakland’s top pick in the 2000 draft, a surprise second-rounder out of Pitt (N.C.) CC. He batted .278/.347/.384 with two homers, 40 RBIs and 23 steals in 102 games at Triple-A Sacramento last year, and he went 2-for-7 in his first taste of the majors in September. His best attributes are his speed, athleticism and versatility, which allows him to play almost anywhere on the diamond. At the plate, he’s a line-drive hitter who draws an occasional walk, but he strikes out too much and has too little pop to be an everyday player. He has hit .275/.348/.363 with 16 homers, 274 RBIs and 175 steals in 692 minor league contests.
Rheinecker, 26, was a supplemental first-round pick out of Southwest Missouri State in 2001. He ranked as one of Oakland‘s top prospects before hitting the wall in Triple-A in 2004, and he made just seven starts at Sacramento last year because of irritation in his left middle finger. He went 4-0, 1.77, with a 24-14 K-BB ratio, .181 opponent average and no homers allowed in 46 innings. Rheinecker is a finesse lefty who gets hitters out by mixing a high-80s fastball, a cutter, a sharp slider and a passable changeup. He isn’t overpowering, so he has little margin for error and doesn’t project as more than a back-of-the-rotation starter at best. He has gone 36-24, 3.79 in 101 minor league appearances (99 starts).
Koronka, 25, was a Reds 12th-round pick out of a Florida high school in 1998. This is his second stint with the Rangers, who took him in the major league Rule 5 draft at the 2002 Winter Meetings but returned him to Cincinnati the following spring. Traded to the Cubs for Phil Norton in August 2003, Koronka made his big league debut in 2005 by going 1-2, 7.47 in four games (three starts). He spent the majority of the year at Triple-A Iowa, going 9-11, 4.24 in 23 games (21 starts). In 136 innings, he had a 96-48 K-BB ratio, .265 opponent average and 12 homers allowed. His changeup was considered the best in the Cubs system. His other pitches are fringy, though he’ll occasionally touch 93 mph with his fastball and his slider has its moments. In the minors, he has gone 59-71, 4.37 in 178 games (158 starts).
Update: The Cubs settled the deal by sending cash considerations to the Rangers.
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