The Texas Rangers first tried to get Tommy Hanson as part of what was a franchise-changing trade seven years ago.
Now they have signed the free agent right-hander to a one-year contract in their search for depth in a rotation dealing with injury concerns.
Hanson signed for $2 million plus possible incentives Friday, two days before Rangers pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Surprise, Ariz.
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”He’s a guy we followed for a long time,” general manager Jon Daniels said. ”Probably back to the Mark Teixeira trade in ’07, followed his career and happy to have the opportunity to bring him in and looking forward to seeing him compete.”
Texas also avoided salary arbitration with first baseman Mitch Moreland by agreeing to a $2.65 million contract for this season, a raise of more than $2 million. The two sides were scheduled for an arbitration hearing Wednesday, but agreed to a number just more than midway between the salary figures they exchanged.
The 27-year-old Hanson was 4-3 with a 5.42 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) in a difficult season with the Los Angeles Angels that included a right forearm injury and the death of his stepbrother.
”Mentally, I don’t think I was where I needed to be last year,” Hanson said. ”It wasn’t only me. My whole family was dealing with that. It’s hard to see your family struggle. It’s difficult, something I don’t really like to talk about. I feel like I’m in a lot better place now than I was last year.”
Hanson said he’s glad that is in the past. Physically, he said he feels great after two months of throwing.
The Rangers made room for Hanson by putting left-handed reliever Joseph Ortiz on the 60-day disabled list with a broken left foot. He had surgery last month after he was run over by a motorcycle while home in Venezuela.
The Angels traded for Hanson after he won at least 10 games in all four major league seasons (2009-12) with Atlanta, the organization he was with when the Rangers traded Teixeira in the deal that brought shortstop Elvis Andrus, left-hander Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz – all since All-Stars and part of two teams in Texas that reached the World Series.
Daniels and the Rangers also inquired about Hanson in that deal.
”But he was a guy that Atlanta rightfully didn’t want to give up on,” Daniels said.
Texas lefty Derek Holland, who had a Rangers-high 33 starts and career-high 213 innings last season, could miss more than half the season after microfracture surgery on the left knee injured when he was tripped by his dog on the stairs at his home.
Harrison, last year’s opening day starter, is coming off a season when he made only two starts before two operations on a herniated disk in his back.
Hanson said there were ”quite of few teams” interested in him, but that Texas was the best fit for him.
”Being able to go in and make the rotation, and be a big part of the team,” Hanson said. ”Ultimately we thought Texas was the best choice and here we are now.”
Moreland was displaced as a starting first baseman when Texas acquired slugger Prince Fielder in a trade from Detroit. The Rangers still plan to use the left-handed Moreland as a designated hitter while playing some first base and maybe the outfield.
In a career-high 147 games last season, Moreland hit .232 with 24 doubles, 23 home runs, and 60 RBIs. He made his major league debut in the second half of the 2010 season, and was the only Texas player with a hit in all five World Series games against San Francisco, when he hit a team-best .462 (6 of 13) and homered in the only Rangers victory.
The Rangers haven’t had to go a salary arbitration hearing since 2000, against Lee Stevens.