A's reach one-year deal with Sheets worth $10M

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The A's, making a bold play to upgrade their starting rotation, signed free-agent right-hander Ben Sheets to a one-year, $10 million contract Tuesday.

Sheets, 31, missed all of 2009 while recovering from elbow surgery. If healthy, the four-time NL All-Star will provide a strong veteran anchor for the A's young rotation.

The A's sent two representatives to watch Sheets throw, director of player personnel Billy Owens and minor league roving pitching instructor Gil Patterson.

"They liked what they saw," assistant general manager David Forst said in a phone interview. "Enough to lead us to think that we should pursue this."

Sheets spent his first eight major league seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, going 86-83 with a 3.72 ERA. He struck out a career-best 264 batters in 2004.

Oakland, which recently re-signed two-time All-Star Justin Duchscherer, still had a spot to fill in the rotation. The A's were set to formally introduce Sheets at a news conference later Tuesday.

Sheets will join Duchscherer, Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden -- with the other rotation spot likely to be filled by either Gio Gonzalez or Trevor Cahill.

The A's can't be sure exactly what they'll get from either Duchscherer or Sheets since neither pitched in 2009. Duchscherer underwent arthroscopic right elbow surgery on March 31 and later was treated for clinical depression.

GM Billy Beane brought Duchscherer back on an incentive-laden one-year contract.

Both pitchers have said they feel fine physically.

Sheets underwent elbow surgery last February to repair a torn flexor tendon that he hurt in 2008. So, by the start of spring training next month he will be about a year out from the procedure.

Sheets and the Texas Rangers had been in negotiations on a two-year contract last winter but a physical on the 2008 All-Star Game starter revealed the elbow problem.

Sheets joins an upgraded Oakland roster featuring new center fielder Coco Crisp and new third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. The club also re-signed Jack Cust to be their primary designated hitter.

The A's finished with 75 wins for the second straight season and in last place in the AL West, losing their final seven games.

The Mets were among the other teams that had pursued Sheets.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.