Rangers acquire White, Burke in trade

A's, Rays also involved in deal that sends Profar to Oakland

Eli White ranked second in the Texas League with a .306 average in 130 games for Double-A Midland last season. (Ben Sandstrom/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | December 21, 2018 12:45 PM

Nothing like some last-minute holiday shopping.

The Rangers picked up four Minor Leaguers, most notably infielder Eli White and left-hander Brock Burke, in a three-team swap with the A's and Rays on Friday, the clubs announced. Texas also acquired pitchers Kyle Bird and Yoel Espinal as well as international bonus pool money. The biggest piece in the deal from a Major League standpoint is infielder Jurickson Profar, who moves from Texas to Oakland, while the Rays added big league reliever Emilio Pagan, Minor League right-hander Rollie Lacy and the 38th overall pick in next year's Draft that had originally belonged to the A's. 

Ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the Oakland system before the trade, White enjoyed a promising season at Double-A Midland in 2018. The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was a Texas League post-season All-Star after producing a .306/.388/.450 line with nine homers, eight triples, 30 doubles and 18 steals in 130 games. His average and OBP each ranked second in the circuit, while his .838 OPS placed fourth among qualifiers. The 2016 11th-rounder out of Clemson saw time at second base, shortstop and third in 2018 and even sprinkled in three starts in center field. He's shown above-average speed and an above-average arm, and with his offensive breakout, a move to the Majors could be within reach next season.

Video: Midland's White belts solo homer

Burke was not ranked among MLB.com's top 30 Rays prospects but put himself into the conversation after a strong finish to his 2018 campaign. The 22-year-old southpaw opened at Class A Advanced Charlotte, where he posted a 3.84 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 30 walks in 82 innings, before moving up to Double-A Montgomery. He took off at the higher level, finishing with a 1.95 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings over nine starts for the Biscuits. His 71 K's following his Southern League debut on July 10 were second-most among Double-A pitchers in that span. The 6-foot-4 hurler shows a plus fastball that can reach 97 mph as well as an above-average curve. For his efforts, the Rays named him the Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Video: Biscuits' Burke gets another K

Bird and Espinal are both relievers who finished 2018 at the upper levels. Bird, a 25-year-old left-hander, owned a 2.39 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while fanning 88 and walking 35 over 75 1/3 innings between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. Espinal, a 26-year-old righty, had a 2.25 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 79 strikeouts and 32 free passes in 64 innings between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Montgomery.

Burke and Bird were each added to Tampa Bay's 40-man roster in November for Rule 5 Draft protection and will join Texas' 40-man as a result.

This is the second time Lacy has been traded in the last five months. The 23-year-old right-hander joined the Rangers from the Cubs in the Cole Hamels trade on July 27. He moves to the Rays after posting a 2.97 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 121 strikeouts and 37 walks in 109 innings between Class A and Class A Advanced.

Video: South Bend's Lacy finishes off seventh no-hit frame

Profar, once the No. 1 overall prospect in the game, should slot into Oakland's opening at second base after his most successful Major League season. The 25-year-old switch-hitter produced a .254/.335/.458 with 20 homers and 10 steals in 146 games, resulting in a 2.9 WAR, according to FanGraphs. He got time at all four infield spots. Profar has two arbitration years left before entering free agency.

Pagan, the only other Major Leaguer in the deal, should help Tampa Bay's unique bullpen usage. The 27-year-old right-hander posted a 4.35 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 19 walks in 62 frames for the A's last season. However, with a 4.92 FIP (inflated by 13 home runs allowed), he was a below-replacement-level hurler with a -0.2 WAR. He was worth 0.8 WAR with the Mariners in 2017.

The 38th overall pick in next year's Draft, which moves from Oakland to Tampa Bay, is the fifth selection in Competitive Balance Round A. The Rays also own the 22nd and 35th overall picks.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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