Rangers trade for Cardinals' Jordan Montgomery, Chris Stratton

The Texas Rangers further fortified themselves for a championship run Sunday, acquiring left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery and right-handed reliever Chris Stratton from the St. Louis Cardinals one day after finalizing a deal for ace Max Scherzer.

With the best offense in baseball, the Rangers tapped into their plentiful minor league system, sending two top prospects -- infielder Thomas Saggese and right-hander Tekoah Roby -- along with left-handed reliever John King to St. Louis.

While the cost was heavy, the 30-year-old Montgomery was one of the prizes of this deadline season, and adding him and Scherzer not only changes the Rangers' expected playoff rotation but protects them with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi hitting the injured list Sunday with forearm tightness.

Montgomery, who is a free agent this winter, was 6-9 with a 3.42 ERA, 108 strikeouts and 35 walks over 121 innings with St. Louis. Acquired last year at the deadline from the New York Yankees for center fielder Harrison Bader, Montgomery was the Cardinals' best starter this season and drew interest from numerous teams before landing in Texas.

Stratton, 32, adds to the Rangers' bullpen depth, which they augmented already in June with the acquisition of left-hander Aroldis Chapman. In 53⅔ innings, the fifth most of any reliever in baseball this season, Stratton sported a 4.36 ERA, though his underlying metrics suggest that he has been unlucky and could see positive regression.

For a pair of rental players, St. Louis' return was significant.

Saggese and Roby, both 21, were part of Texas' haul in the 2020 draft. Saggese, who's likely to end up at second or third base, is hitting .314/.380/.514 with 15 home runs and 78 RBIs this season and was a particular favorite of evaluators who have covered the Rangers' system. Roby has a four-pitch mix, and while his 5.05 ERA is unsightly, he has struck out four times as many hitters as he has walked this season and limited hitters to five home runs over 46⅓ innings.

King, 28, nearly was traded to the Yankees at the deadline two years ago in the Joey Gallo deal. When a new iteration of that deal did not include him, he stayed with the Rangers. He has a 5.79 ERA in 18⅔ innings this season while shuttling between the big leagues and Triple-A.