The Rangers beefed up their roster for the stretch drive of the playoff race on Thursday, the first day that rosters could be expanded.
In addition to activating third baseman Adrian Beltre, the Rangers welcomed left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez and catcher Matt Treanor, acquired via trades completed ahead of the midnight ET Wednesday deadline; purchased the contracts of infielder Esteban German and right-hander Merkin Valdez and activated infielder Andres Blanco.
Beltre is obviously the big addition for the Rangers. He was second in the AL in RBI on July 22 when he injured his left hamstring. Without him, the Rangers muddled through at 18-17.
The other moves, however, are designed to help the club refine its efficiency and maintain its hold on first place. Gonzalez will likely be used to face tough left-handed batters in the late innings, giving manager Ron Washington more latitude with how he deploys relievers. Valdez, who signed a minor league contract with the Rangers in July after the Los Angeles Dodgers released him, has 69 games of major league experience and was pitching well at Class AAA Round Rock. He could be used as an extra middle reliever.
Blanco was the Rangers' Opening Day backup infielder and has been consistent for the team in that role. When he went out, the club purchased the contract of Omar Quintanilla, who struggled both offensively and defensively. Blanco's return should give Washington more chances to rest shortstop Elvis Andrus, who has had a hard time in the second half. German has been a late inning offensive spark plug for the club the last couple of years. While not a good defender, he is a capable offensive player and is effective on the basepaths.
In addition, the Rangers sent Quintanilla outright to Round Rock to make room on the 40-man roster for German. And they sent right-hander Pedro Strop to Baltimore to complete the deal that brought them Gonzalez. Baltimore had the prevailing waiver claim on Strop.
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