Angels add Carrasco to talented staff

Angels add Carrasco to talented staff

ANAHEIM -- The Angels bolstered their pitching staff Friday by signing former Nationals right-hander Hector Carrasco to a $6.1 million, two-year deal with a club option for 2008. The club also signed Tim Salmon to a Minor League contract with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

By adding Carrasco, contingent on a physical examination, the Angels also ended negotiations with right-hander Paul Byrd by officially withdrawing an offer that was believed to be about $11 million for two years.

"In business, there comes a time to move forward, and we weren't moving forward," general manager Bill Stoneman said of discussions with Byrd that stalled as the free agent drew interest from Baltimore, Cleveland, Texas and Kansas City. "It became time to move on."

With a basic agreement with Carrasco in place, Stoneman left a message with Byrd on his cell phone Friday morning and spoke with agent Bo McKinnis to inform them that the Angels' offer was no longer available.

"It became evident to us that we weren't going to have an agreement with Byrd," Stoneman said of adding some insurance. "To not let Carrasco go, because he had some other offers, we said, 'Let's put a peg on the board and make a commitment to Hector.'"

By signing Carrasco, who was also being pursued by the Mariners and Giants, the Angels will forfeit a first-round draft pick to Washington in compensation. But the Angels are likely to offer Byrd salary arbitration, and if he rejects the process, the Angels will receive a first-round pick from the team that signs him.

Teams can offer arbitration to their free agents starting Dec. 7 at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Carrasco went 5-4 with a 2.04 ERA in 64 appearances with the Nationals last season, earning two saves and making five starts. The 36-year-old also held opponents to a .193 batting average and finished the season in the rotation. Though he has just six starts to his credit in a 10-year Major League career, the Angels will take a look at Carrasco as a starting pitcher.

Right-hander Kelvim Escobar is returning to the rotation next season after spending last September as a setup man, and the Angels are not in the chase for Jarrod Washburn, another of their free agents. Stoneman also said that he will be looking more toward relief than starting pitching over the course of the next few weeks.

Carrasco's competition for the fifth spot in the rotation will largely come from a group of prospects led by left-hander Joe Saunders and right-handers Chris Bootcheck and Jered Weaver. Right-hander Kevin Gregg will also be in the chase.

"The depth in our rotation should be there," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We certainly should have the arms to contend in our division, and that is the bottom line here. With Carrasco, hopefully the little adjustments he's made will make him a more viable option in the rotation."

Carrasco, a hard thrower who has added a cutter, opened last season at Triple-A New Orleans, where he compiled a 1-0 mark while not allowing a run in six games. He owns a 35-46 career record while pitching for the Reds, Royals, Twins, Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals in a career that began in 1994. Carrasco also went 8-8 with five saves for the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League in 2004.

Carrasco will get a $500,000 signing bonus to go with $2.35 million in salary next season and $2.75 million in 2007. The Angels have a $3 million club option in 2008 with a $500,000 buyout. But Carrasco can guarantee a 2008 salary of $4.4 million if he starts 25 games in 2007. An additional $1.75 million annually in performance bonuses based on starts is also included in the deal.

Salmon missed the entire 2005 season as he rehabbed from a pair of surgeries, one to his left knee and another to his left shoulder. He returned in September to work out with the team, but felt pain in his knee on consecutive days.

The 37-year-old hit .253 with two homers and 23 RBIs in 60 games for the Angels in 2004 and will be given an opportunity to win a bench job this spring and possibly some time at DH.

Drafted in the third round in 1989, Salmon has spent his entire career in the Angels organization.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.