Rangers pick up 2 players in Montero trade

Texas gets RHP Corniell, PTBNL; Leclerc likely back at closer

December 15th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Right-handed reliever was a major success story for the Rangers' scouting, medical and pitching departments. Texas signed him as a Minor League free agent while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he ended up as the closer this past season.

In continuing their rebuilding program, the Rangers traded Montero to the Mariners on Tuesday for right-hander José Corniell and a player to be named. Corniell, 17, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Texas' 28th-best prospect in the organization.

Rangers get: RHP José Corniell, player to be named
Mariners get: RHP Rafael Montero

Corniell, who stands 6-foot-3, was signed by the Mariners out of the Dominican Republic in 2019 and has yet to pitch in a game with the Minor Leagues shut down this summer. He did pitch in the Mariners' instructional league in Arizona this fall.

“It’s hard to project exactly where he will be,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “But right now, we see a right-hander with a solid build, a strong right arm, a very lively fastball, there is probably more in the tank as he continues to grow and mature. He’s got a good feel for pitching, a good breaking ball.”

Corniell was a product of the Marmolejos Baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic, and the Rangers were among the clubs who pursued him as an amateur free agent. The Mariners signed him to a $630,000 signing bonus.

“I know the Rangers had strong interest in him as an amateur free agent coming out of the D.R.,” Young said. “We consulted with a lot of people in the past. We are excited to have him a part of our organization as we move forward.”

Montero pitched for parts of four seasons with the Mets in 2014-17 before undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2018. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract in 2019 and helped him finish the rehab process.

Montero pitched in 39 games for the Rangers the past two seasons and was 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. He had eight saves this year after taking over for José Leclerc as the closer.

The Rangers expect Leclerc to return to the closer’s role next season. He pitched in just two games this year before being shut down with a partially torn muscle in the back of his right shoulder, but he had a combined 26 saves as the Rangers' closer in 2018-19.