|The Rangers are at it again. In their fourth trade for a big leaguer this summer, they shipped a pair of Double-A righthanders to the Nationals for middle infielder Cristian Guzman. Texas parted with Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark, and just as they have they have with all their recent wheeling and dealing, they receive significant salary relief in the deal. The Nationals agreed to send $2 million the Rangers' way.
The 32-year-old Guzman gave way to Ian Desmond at shortstop in Washington when the season started. But the rookie Desmond's recent defensive struggles have necessitated a shift back across the bag for Guzman, who doesn't run or field like he did in his prime but who certainly is capable of hitting an empty .300 for the balance of the season. The Rangers were spurred to make the move when regular second baseman Ian Kinsler recently went on the disabled list.
Texas began its flurry of deals with a bang, acquiring catcher Bengie Molina on June 30 and ace lefty Cliff Lee on July 9. They added first baseman Jorge Cantu one day before Guzman, on July 29. With this series of four trades, the Rangers have strip-mined their Double-A Frisco affiliate, trading away six regular contributors. Gone from the rotation are Blake Beavan, Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko; lost from the bullpen are Josh Lueke and Evan Reed; and second baseman Matt Lawson also left via trade.
|Ryan Tatusko, rhp
Born: March 27, 1985 in Merrillville, Ind.
Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 200. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Indiana State.
Career Transactions: Selected by Rangers in 18th round of 2007 draft; signed June 11, 2007.
Tatusko has tackled the minor leagues one level at a time, beginning with short-season Spokane out of college in 2007. He spent a year at each Class A level before embarking on Double-A this season. Such deliberate progress is befitting of a pitcher with the standard three-pitch repertoire—it's nothing flashy but gets results. He ranked sixth in the Texas League with a 2.97 ERA at the time of the trade. Tatusko pitches at 90-93 mph with an average curveball and the occasional split changeup. He's not overpowering, but batters have difficulty squaring him up because of his short arm stroke. The ball is on top of the batter before they have time to react, so he relies on his defense to convert those mis-hits into outs.
|Tanner Roark, rhp
Born: Oct. 5, 1986 in Joliet, Ill.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed by independent Southern Illinois (Frontier), March 11, 2008 ... Selected by Rangers in 25th round of 2008 draft; signed June 9, 2008.
Illinois declared Roark ineligible for his junior year because of academic reasons, so that's why he took the unusual step of signing with an independent league team prior to the draft. He pitches in the mid-80s and tops out in the low 90s at times, and he backs it up with a curveball and changeup. In six second-half starts for Frisco, Roark went 2-2, 3.51 with 24 strikeouts, 13 walks and one home run allowed over 33 innings. He recorded a 10-strikeout game against Midland in June and an eight-whiff showing against Corpus Christi last Saturday, July 24. Despite flashing occasional swing-and-miss stuff, Roarke projects as a low-leverage reliever or up-and-down spot starter.
|Cristian Guzman, 2b/ss
Age: 32. Bats: B. Remaining Commitment: Prorated portion of $8 million salary (approximately $2.6 million; Nationals send $2 million).
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.