Rangers upgrade bullpen with Uehara

Tim Brown

Seeking bullpen help and perhaps still working on a deal for San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell(notes), the Texas Rangers on Saturday acquired right-handed reliever Koji Uehara(notes) from the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman Chris Davis(notes) and pitcher Tommy Hunter(notes), sources confirmed.

Koji Uehara celebrates after completing the eigth inning in a June 6 victory over the A's.
(Getty Images)

The Rangers – players for Carlos Beltran(notes) before the outfielder was traded to the San Francisco Giants – had targeted relievers as the trading deadline approached. Closer Neftali Feliz(notes) has endured a bumpy sophomore season, and the trickle-down meant the Rangers' bullpen was a soft spot for the leaders of the AL West.

Uehara had a 1.72 ERA over 43 appearances for the Orioles. Last season he had 13 saves, but tended to pitch better in non-save situations. Uehara's contract calls for a 2012 option for $4 million that vests with 55 appearances. He can elect for free agency after next season.

In return for Uehara, the Orioles get Davis, a left-handed hitter who has shown huge power potential, but was passed up by Mitch Moreland(notes). Hunter, 25, won 13 games for the Rangers last season and pitched mostly out of the bullpen in 2011. The Orioles likely view him as a starter.

The Baltimore Sun was first to report the trade.

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