Tigers acquire closer Joakim Soria from the Rangers

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Kyle Bogenschutz of Scout.com and Detroit’s 97.1 The Ticket reports that the Tigers have acquired reliever Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says the deal is only pending the three physical exams.

Soria has been solid as the Texas closer this season, boasting a 2.70 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 42/4 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. He could eventually — or immediately — take over the ninth-inning job in Detroit, where veteran Joe Nathan has been unreliable.

Soria didn’t come cheap for the Tigers, who lead the AL Central but are gearing up for October. Thompson was a second-round pick in 2012 out of a Texas high school and owns a promising 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 203/69 K/BB ratio in 200 2/3 career innings between rookie ball and Double-A Erie. He’s only 20 years old. Knebel was a first-round pick in 2013 (39th overall) and has registered a dominant 1.26 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 84/27 K/BB ratio in 64 1/3 minor league innings. The 22-year-old out of the University of Texas had also made eight relief appearances for the big-league Tigers this season, though the results were not spectacular.

Soria is making $5.5 million this season and carries a $7 million club option for the 2015 campaign.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.