Rangers, Rockies beat clock with trade

By Josh Boyd

July 31, 2002

The Rangers weren’t able to trim as much as their lofty payroll as they had hoped, but they did manage to accomplish something in that direction right before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. Eastern deadline for trades without waivers. Texas moved Gabe Kapler and minor leaguer Jason Romano to Colorado for Todd Hollandsworth and Dennys Reyes.

Kapler makes $1.85 million this year and will get another $3.425 million in 2003. Hollandsworth currently receives $2.75 million but will become a free agent after the season, while Reyes gets $900,000 now and will be eligible for arbitration in the offseason.

The 26-year-old Kapler was the second outfielder acquired by the Rockies on Wednesday, joining Jay Payton from the Mets. A 57th-round pick of the Tigers from Moorpark (Calif.) JC in 1995, he broke out with a monster .322-28-146 season at Double-A Jacksonville in 1998. Kapler joined the Rangers in a November 1999 nine-player trade for Juan Gonzalez. Since an encouraging .302-14-66 season with Texas in 2000, Kapler has been a disappointment. He batted just .260-0-17 in 72 games this year. There’s a lot of effort to his swing and he struggles against breaking pitches. Kapler does run well and has played center field, though he’s better suited for an outfield corner.

Hollandsworth, 29, won the 1996 National League Rookie of the Year award in 1996 but has been injury prone ever since. A 2000 trade to the Rockies helped rejuvenate his statistics, mainly because he has hit .347 with a .619 slugging percentage at Coors Field during his career. He’s batting .295-11-48 in 95 games this year (but just .227-2-18 away from home) and .280-69-269 in 708 career contests. Hollandsworth has average power but knee injuries have taken a toll on his speed, reducing his effectiveness somewhat as a basestealer and outfielder.

Romano, 23, was a supplemental first-round pick in 1997 out of Hillsborough High, the same Tampa school that produced Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield and Carl Everett. After productive seasons in the minors at second base early in his career, Romano was compared to Craig Biggio. He hasn’t hit as well since reaching Double-A and has been splitting time between second and the outfield. Romano has been on the shuttle between Triple-A Oklahoma City and Texas this year, hitting .204-0-4 with three steals in his first 29 games in the majors. At Oklahoma City, where he was at the time of the deal, he has batted .261-4-27 with 10 steals in 46 games. Romano offers versatility, speed and athleticism, but he hasn’t shown enough power to become an everyday outfielder and his strike-zone judgement has been just fair.

Reyes, 25, was compared to Fernando Valenzuela on his way up the ladder in the Dodgers farm system but has settled into a short- relief role. In 43 appearances for the Rockies this year, he has gone 0-1, 4.24. His fastball travels in the low 90s and he has a sharp breaking ball. Command has been an issue with Reyes, who has a career 11-18, 4.31 record in 238 big league games.