ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Unable to acquire Tyson Ross through a trade in the past, the Texas Rangers made the right-hander a priority when he became a free agent this offseason.
Ross and the Rangers on Thursday finalized a one-year deal that is worth up to $9 million for the pitcher whose only start last year came in the season opener for the San Diego Padres.
“A process a couple of years in the making,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “In the recruiting process, and getting to know him, we feel even stronger about the addition.”
The deal, with a base salary of $6 million and another possible $3 million in performance bonuses based on starts, got done after Ross completed a physical. He spent most of last season on the disabled list for shoulder inflammation, then had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
While Ross isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season, once he is fully healthy he would be set to join a rotation led by Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez.
“I don’t know what the date’s going to be, but I’m totally comfortable that not only will I be ready, but I’ll be back 100 percent in helping this club win some games down the stretch,” Ross said.
The Rangers had signed Texas native Andrew Cashner, another former Padres starter and one of Ross’ good friends, to a $10 million, one-year deal early this offseason. Right-hander A.J. Griffin, who made 23 starts last season for Texas after missing two full seasons following Tommy John surgery, was re-signed.
The 29-year-old Ross is 32-53 with a 3.64 ERA in 153 big league appearances with 102 starts for Oakland (2010-12) and San Diego (2013-16).
Before his lone start last season, Ross’ 407 strikeouts in 2014-15 ranked third in the National League for that period. In those two seasons before getting hurt, he was 23-26 with a 3.04 ERA and averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He was selected to the 2014 NL All-Star team.
One of the first things Ross did when waking up after surgery just more than three months ago was ask for a baseball. He wanted to make sure he’d still be able to throw a slider.
“I don’t plan on backing back off it at all,” Ross said of his go-to pitch. “I had my wife hand me a baseball and made sure I still had the same feel for that grip. So I’ve been chomping at the bit. … I’m not going to change anything.”
Daniels said Ross and the Rangers are intentionally being conservative in the pitcher’s rehab to make sure he gets 100 percent healthy.
“The goal is to finish strong,” Daniels said. “We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal to finish strong, be pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully beyond 162 (games).”
Ross hopes for the opportunity to pitch in the postseason for the first time in his career.
He was in the stands last October, only two days before his surgery, when he watched his younger brother Joe pitch for the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the National League division series in Los Angeles.
“Thus far, I haven’t had the chance to get out there in October. … That’s something that’s really important to me,” Ross said. “I was able to watch my brother start a game last year for the Nationals in the postseason, and part of me was jealous, sitting in the stands, wishing I was out there in spikes.”
Ross would earn $100,000 for each start from eight to 11, $150,000 for 12-15 and $200,000 for 16-25. He would get a $500,000 assignment bonus if traded.
Right-hander Brady Dragmire was designated for assignment to make room on the Rangers’ 40-man roster.
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