ARLINGTON -- Veteran reliever Jason Frasor was the first man out of the Rangers' bullpen when he was traded on Wednesday to the Royals for Triple-A pitcher Spencer Patton.
"This is just a natural spot, with Jason being a free agent, to consider moving him, but it's not necessarily related to anything else we may do," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "The closer guys are to free agency, it's just more natural those conversations take place. But we're still going to make good baseball trades."
The Rangers have also had clubs express interest in left-handed reliever Neal Cotts and closer Joakim Soria. Like Frasor, Cotts can be a free agent after this season. The Rangers hold a $7 million option on Soria for next season and are believed to be looking for two or three prospects in return.
The Rangers have put themselves in position to trade their veteran relievers by calling up Neftali Feliz, Roman Mendez and Matt West from Triple-A Round Rock in the past two weeks. The Rangers' goal, now that they have fallen out of contention, is to look at as many young players as possible over the second half of the season.
"[There are] some guys ready to potentially come in and help us in the bullpen -- especially right-handed bullpen help," Daniels said. "Mendez has thrown well, and we've got some other guys at the upper levels that we'd like to look at, as well, that we think have a chance to really help us."
Patton, 26, was at Triple-A Omaha, where he was 4-3 with a 4.08 ERA and 14 saves in 34 games. In 46 1/3 innings, he has allowed 26 hits and 22 walks for a 1.04 WHP. He also averages 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings but has allowed nine home runs. He has been assigned to Round Rock.
Daniels said that scouting reports indicate that Patton is similar to Frasor in many ways, and that though he will start at the Triple-A level, Patton could compete at the Major League level now. That was part of the reason the Rangers found him so attractive.
"He's actually described as a guy that could develop into a Jason Frasor-type reliever. There's a lot of similarities. He's a little bit undersized, right-handed reliever, strike thrower. Lot of swings and misses," Daniels said. "[He] has a fastball that hitters don't really seem to pick up quite as well."
Daniels and the Rangers' scouts were on the same page.
"Our scouts like his toughness and competitiveness in the bullpen," Rangers pro scouting director Josh Boyd said. "He's got a good combination of velocity and late life on his fastball, and gets good action on his slider and changeup."
The Royals drafted Patton in the 24th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Frasor was a 33rd-round pick by the Tigers out of SIU Carbondale in 1999. Both pitchers are originally from Illinois and went to high school in the state.
In 2013, Patton split time between Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, with a combined record of 5-2, a 1.86 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
Frasor, 36, was in his second year with the Rangers, having re-signed as a free agent in the offseason with the hopes of being in the playoffs for the first time in his career. He was 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. He allowed five runs in six appearances in July for the Rangers. Prior to that, he had a 2.13 ERA and opponents were hitting .209 against him.
Daniels said the club plans to activate catcher Geovany Soto as the corresponding roster move at the Major League level this weekend to replace Frasor. Soto had surgery on his right knee at the end of Spring Training, and has been on the disabled list all season.
"Soto will be flying with us [Thursday] to Toronto," Daniels said. "He and [Robinson] Chirinos will split the majority of catching and hitting, the at-bats."
Daniels acknowledged that the injuries the Rangers have had to deal with have taken their toll. But heading into the second half of the season, he hopes to see a more-focused Rangers squad, a group that has lost 22 of its last 25 games.
"I think that the intensity level and the focus picked up a little bit after the first game against the Angels last weekend, and we want to see that continue. We want to see some energy, some fight," Daniels said. "Derek Jeter had a great quote this past weekend. [He said], 'How hard is it really to play hard? That should be the easy part … how hard is it to run hard four times a night?' That kind of mentality."
Like Rangers manager Ron Washington has done so many times, Daniels pinpointed third baseman Adrian Beltre as an example who he hopes the rest of the Rangers follow.
Beltre has given the Rangers consistency, hitting .337 on the season. He also participated in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
"When we've been losing at the pace we've been losing at, it's hard," Daniels said. "That's where you see the guys that are mentally tough, the guys that have that ability to focus -- like an Adrian Beltre. Still able to maintain that consistent level day in and day out. Those guys stand out."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com.