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Mariners Rafael Montero
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Mariners trade for Texas Rangers closer Rafael Montero

Rafael Montero led the Texas Rangers with eight saves in 2020. (Getty)

The Mariners have made what could be one of multiple significant additions to their bullpen for 2021.

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Rafael Montero, who was the Rangers’ closer in 2020, has been acquired by the Mariners for minor league pitcher José Corniell and a player to be named later. News of the deal was broken Tuesday by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, with the team confirming the trade in the afternoon.

Montero, a 30-year-old right-hander, led Texas last season with eight saves, going a perfect 8 for 8 in save opportunities. He finished the year with a 4.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 19 strikeouts, six walks and 17 appearances over 17 2/3 innings. His numbers figured out to 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, a 3.17 strikeouts to walk ratio, and 3.1 walks per nine.

“Rafael is a solid addition to our ongoing efforts to fortify the bullpen,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a press release. “We see his outstanding stuff and quality performance since converting to a full-time reliever as impactful in our bullpen.”

Montero has spent the past two seasons with the Rangers after appearing in parts of four seasons with the Mets, who he made his MLB debut for in 2014. He missed 2018 while recovering from Tommy John surgery but had his best season in 2019 with a 2.48 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 34 strikeouts and five walks over 22 appearances (29 innings).

Corniell signed with the Mariners as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2019. He was set to play in the Dominican Summer League in 2020 but has yet to appear in a professional game due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Passan’s tweet first reporting the Montero trade delved further into Seattle’s plans to add to its bullpen. He reported that the Mariners have talked to Blake Treinen, a free agent who last pitched for the Dodgers and had an All-Star season as Oakland’s closer in 2018.

Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle, followed up that former Angels reliever Keynan Middleton was another name the M’s have interest in – so much so that Seattle announced his signing Wednesday.

The Mariners made two apparent additions to the bullpen last week, taking Will Vest from Detroit in the Rule 5 Draft and reportedly signing Chris Flexen, who was a standout in Korea’s KBO last season.

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