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"We are excited to bring him on board," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said after the one-year, $6 million deal was formally announced on Thursday. "He was a priority for us. We know what he can do on the field. In 2014-15, he was one of the elite pitchers in the National League."
Ross, an All-Star in 2014, was still in demand as a free agent, even though he was coming off surgery in October. There were a number of teams pursuing him, including the World Series champion Cubs, before he decided on the Rangers. He can earn another $3 million in incentives.
"A couple of factors weighed in the decision," Ross said. "It's a fantastic organization and a competitive ballclub. They are in the postseason almost every year. And their medical staff blew me away; they have a lot of experience with thoracic outlet."
When Ross is healthy, he is expected to fit into a rotation that includes Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and Andrew Cashner. The Rangers have A.J. Griffin, Nick Martinez, Dillon Gee and Rule 5 Draft pick Mike Hauschild as other candidates to be their fifth starter in Spring Training.
Ross spent the last four seasons with the Padres after being acquired in a trade from the Athletics. From 2013-15, he was 26-34, but with a 3.07 ERA. Despite the losing record, he had the fourth-lowest ERA in the NL during that stretch among pitchers with at least 500 innings. He was fifth with 9.16 strikeouts per nine innings and 10th with a 1.22 WHIP.
The righty was the Padres' Opening Day starter last year, but he allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 5 1/3 innings against the Dodgers. Ross did not pitch the rest of the year because of what was initially diagnosed as shoulder inflammation. There were multiple attempts to rehab the shoulder, but all proved unsuccessful.
It wasn't until the end of the season that Ross was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition where a ribcage bone pushes against a nerve, causing pain and numbness in the shoulder and arm. Ross underwent surgery on Oct. 13, and he was operated on by Dr. Robert Thompson, a leading expert on thoracic outlet.
"It was definitely frustrating, but it was a blessing in disguise that it turned out to be thoracic outlet and not something more serious," Ross said. "I am happy with the way things have progressed. I'm focused on rehab and training and doing it right through the process. The innings and the games started will be what they are. I just want to impact the ballclub."
The prognosis after the surgery was recovery would take 4-6 months, which could mean a return anywhere between the beginning of Spring Training to the middle of April. But the Rangers and Ross won't rush it.
"Our mindset is to get him back 100 percent, get him strong and finish strong," Daniels said. "We are going to err on the side of caution."
Ross is the second former Padres pitcher to be signed by the Rangers as a free agent this season. Texas added Cashner in December, and Ross said he was talking to him daily during the free-agent process. Ross met with the Rangers two weeks ago in Arlington, and that accelerated the process.
"He really blew us away," Daniels said. "The person matched up with the competitor and the talent between the lines."