Published January 03, 2011
| Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers will have a former Cy Young Award winner wearing No. 33 after all next season — Brandon Webb instead of Cliff Lee.
Three weeks after losing Lee in free agency, the AL champions on Monday finalized a $3 million, one-year deal with the 2006 NL Cy Young winner, who hasn't pitched since the 2009 season opener after shoulder surgery. Texas also completed a $3.9 million, one-year contract with 41-year-old reliever Arthur Rhodes.
While Texas would still like to add a big bat and possibly another pitcher this offseason, general manager Jon Daniels refused to discuss the possibility of signing free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre or get specific about any other potential moves.
"There are still some interesting possibilities out there," Daniels said. "We focused a lot this offseason on continuing to build the depth, as far as insulating the core, bringing in character pieces, character players that fit what we're trying to do. I think there's still potentially an opportunity to continue to do that. We've been in contact with potentially a few things that might be a little bigger than that, but it's hard to say whether any of those will come to fruition."
Webb, whose last major league game was the 2009 opener for Arizona, can earn $5 million in bonuses.
Rhodes, coming off one of his best seasons in a 20-year major league career, has a deal that includes a $4 million club option for 2012 that could become guaranteed.
Webb was one of the NL's best pitchers before shoulder surgery in 2009, and his rehabilitation including pitching four innings over 1½ weeks in the instructional league in October.
"I feel good right now, feel good where I'm at," Webb said. "I felt comfortable on the mound each time I went out there. My velocity got better and my stuff got better. Just taking it from there, I feel like I'm going to be ready for spring training for sure."
If the Rangers make a deal with Beltre, a two-time Gold Glove winner coming off his first All-Star season, it would impact Michael Young, the franchise's career hits leader who has three seasons left on his contract. Young was a second baseman until shortstop Alex Rodriguez was traded, then moved to third base two years ago to make room for rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Webb has already been throwing for a couple of weeks in preparation for spring training.
"Right now, there's no limitations at all for me," Webb said. "I expect to jump right in. ... This year should be the year I feel back to normal."
Webb was 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA the year he won the Cy Young Award, then improved his victory total in each of the next two seasons when he was also an All-Star. He was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA in 2007, then 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA in 2008 for the Diamondbacks, the team that drafted him in the eighth round in 2000.
After pitching more than 200 innings in five consecutive seasons, Webb developed shoulder trouble that eventually resulted in surgery. The Diamondbacks exercised their $8.5 million option to keep him under contract for 2010, but he never made it back after throwing only four innings in the 2009 season opener.
Webb's surgery in August 2009 was done by Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers' team doctor.
Daniels said Meister felt the pitcher "was where he should have been from a conditioning standpoint. ... All of the checkpoints you'd look at were there."
In 199 career games, all with the Diamondbacks since 2003, Webb is 87-62 with a 3.27 ERA, 1,065 strikeouts and 435 walks.
Webb, who wore No. 17 in the past, is switching to No. 33 to honor former Kentucky teammate Jon Hooker, who was killed in a 2006 plane crash the day after getting married.
Rhodes appeared in 69 games for Cincinnati, his most since 2001, despite being bothered at times by a left foot problem that didn't keep him from pitching. He had a 2.29 ERA in 55 innings with 50 strikeouts and 18 walks.
"It feels great to be a Ranger," said Rhodes, who was born in Waco, about 100 miles from Rangers Ballpark, though he currently lives in Baltimore and spoke by phone. "It makes me feel good that I can play in front of my family and play in the state I grew up in. ... I'm feeling good and ready to go."
The left-hander has an 84-66 record with 32 saves and a 4.06 ERA in 849 career games for Baltimore (1991-99), Seattle (2000-03, 2008), Oakland (2004), Cleveland (2005), Philadelphia (2006), Florida (2008) and Cincinnati (2009-10). He missed the 2007 season after Tommy John surgery.
Lee signed a $120 million, five-year deal to return to the Philadelphia Phillies, who had traded him at the end of the 2009 season to Seattle. The Rangers had offered the ace left-hander $138 million over six seasons with the possibility of a seventh season.
To make room on the 40-man roster, catcher Max Ramirez and left-handed reliever Clay Rapada were designated for assignment. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Ramirez and Rapada to the minor leagues.