In the end, which arrived for Sam Dyson on Wednesday night, the Texas Rangers were left with no choice.
Dyson was out of minor-league options, so there was no way to send him to the minors and keep him on the 40-man roster.
There were no health issues that would put Dyson on the disabled list.
The team with World Series aspirations couldn’t continue trying to hide a reliever who for much of the season was unable to record three outs without the opposing team scoring, often scoring at will.
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The only choice for the Rangers was the move that became official Friday: Dyson was designated for assignment.
It’s likely that he has thrown his last pitch for a Rangers team he helped win the American League West title the past two seasons, including 38 saves in 2016.
The fall was a quick one, one that left the Rangers stumped.
“There’s definitely some frustration on our part that we weren’t able to help him recapture that magic, at least temporarily,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s healthy. He’s been healthy. He’s been working at it. Our coaches have been getting after it. He just hasn’t been able to get back to what he’s capable of.”
Rangers manager Jeff Banister credited Sam Dyson for being a huge part of past division titles and said the move was the 'unpleasant part of the business.' (Video by Stefan Stevenson).
Jose Leclerc took Dyson’s spot on the active roster when he was activated from the 10-day disabled list before the opener of a three-game series against the Houston Astros.
Dyson was 1-6 with a 10.80 ERA in the Rangers’ first 54 games. They started their second third of the season Friday with a 4.68 bullpen ERA that ranked 13th in the 15-team AL.
No facet of the club has been worse that its bullpen, and no reliever was worse than Dyson. He opened the season as the closer and was the losing pitcher on Opening Day and again two days later.
The Rangers removed Dyson from the closer’s role after he spent 10 days on the DL for a bruised hand, an injury that Daniels said probably wouldn’t have required the DL had Dyson been pitching well.
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A strong showing May 21 at Detroit, when he recorded five straight outs after issuing a double to Miguel Cabrera, was Dyson’s fifth scoreless outing of in six May appearances. But he allowed five runs without recording an out, albeit with two intentional walks, May 24 in a loss at Boston and three runs Wednesday in a loss to Tampa Bay.
The Rangers informed him of their decision within 30 minutes of him being booed off the mound from what was left of the Globe Life Park crowd.
“That’s never fun,” manager Jeff Banister said. “That’s not how you expect or want the relationship to go. Sam was such a huge part of what we did in 2015 and what we did in 2016 with the full expectation that he’d be the closer this year.
“On these teams, there’s no independent contractors. On these teams were all part of a family. A situation like that, it becomes very challenging. The thing I do know is I believe there is very good baseball ahead for Sam Dyson.”
Multiple teams have inquired about a trade for Dyson, and Daniels said that he expects to find a trade for the right-hander who was acquired from the Miami Marlins just ahead of the 2015 trade deadline.
Dyson was the Rangers’ best reliever the final two months, posting a 1.15 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. He took over for Shawn Tolleson as closer last season in May and saved 38 games with a 2.43 ERA.
After watching him not allow a run for Team USA en route to the World Baseball Classic championship, Dyson was expected to continue his run as Rangers closer.
His sudden demise has left his teammates scratching their heads.
“It’s unfortunate what happened with Dyson,” said reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who has also had his struggles. “His stuff is unbelievable. He just couldn’t put it together quick enough.”
Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo wrote in an online diary entry that tears flowed after Dyson returned to his locker. Jake Diekman, who is as close to Dyson as any Rangers player, said that he has spoken to Dyson since the DFA and suggested that he should get away from the game for a few days.
Rangers reliever Jake Diekman discusses the rough side of the business after his best friend Sam Dyson is designated for assignment (Video by Stefan Stevenson).
Diekman, who struggled with Philadelphia before being traded to the Rangers on the same day Dyson was acquired, said that a change of scenery helped him and could help Dyson.
“I’ve been there,” Diekman said. “It sucks because you have one or two amazing outings and the next four you’re trying to find it. And mentally you’re just drained from trying to fight through each outing.”
Though Dyson is gone, the bullpen continues to have issues. The Rangers continue to evaluate the relievers on the roster and pitchers in the minors, Daniels said, and continue to believe in the group assembled for Opening Day.
The relievers still here understand they must be better, and it didn’t take the Dyson transaction to wake them up to that.
“We have the ability,” Jeffress said. “That didn’t shock me. That didn’t scare me. We were surprised a little bit. But what happened happened. We can’t do anything about it. That comes with the job. If I don’t perform, I know where I’m going.”
Rangers reliever Tony Barnette on the departure of Sam Dyson and the struggles by the bullpen (Video by Stefan Stevenson).
Rangers vs. Astros
6:15 p.m. Saturday, KDFW/4
Rain delayed the start of Friday’s Rangers-Astros game by two hours. The Rangers trailed 3-0 after six innings at press time. For a full game report, go to star-telegram.com/sports.