Contract figures not the priority for Gomez, Ross

Pickups signed with Rangers for healthy atmosphere, injury recovery plan

Contract figures not the priority for Gomez, Ross

ARLINGTON -- Free agency is not always about a player trying to land the biggest contract.

Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Tyson Ross showed it this winter when they agreed to one-year contracts. Both had other options, but they had their own specific reasons for why they signed with Texas.

For Gomez, it was all about comfort and building on what he began when he joined the Rangers after he was released by the Astros on Aug. 18.

Gomez was hitting .210 with a .322 slugging percentage in 85 games with Houston when he was let go. He joined the Rangers on Aug. 25 and hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat, sparking a 9-0 win over the Indians. He ended up playing in 33 games and hit .284 with eight home runs, 24 RBIs and a .543 slugging percentage.

"You saw where I came from -- for 3 1/2 months, I was struggling," Gomez said. "I came here, right away my first game, I had a good game. After that, I took a deep breath and came back to being the player that I am. For a month and a half, I experienced something I never had. Everybody is like a family."

Must C: Gomez homers in first AB

The Rangers went into the offseason looking to re-sign Gomez, and they were willing to do a multiyear deal. But Gomez settled for a one-year contract with the intent on re-proving himself over a full year.

Gomez and Texas were able to negotiate a deal in 45 minutes at the Winter Meetings outside Washington, D.C., in December.

"We had talked, but I'm the type of guy who likes to talk personally," Gomez said. "I love baseball, but when we talk about business, I like them to see my face and see that I am real. I want to be a part of this team and give the best that I have every single day. I want them to look in my eye and see I am not joking around."

Ross was looking for the right place to come back from a shoulder injury that limited him to just one start with the Padres last season, but did not prevent him from being a highly coveted free agent this winter. Ross was a combined 26-34 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 9.16 strikeouts per nine innings from 2013-15, so clubs knew what he's capable of doing when healthy.

The Rangers and the Cubs emerged as his top two choices. Ross said the difference was Texas had experience with pitchers who had undergone thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. He was impressed with the medical staff that includes senior director Jamie Reed, conditioning coach Jose Vazquez and trainers Kevin Harmon and Matt Lucero.

"I had a lot of questions as I talked to other teams, and the Rangers seemed to be on every single one of them," Ross said. "I got a chance to come out here and meet the medical team, and they took a look at me. They said, 'You're on track and looking good,' and they seemed to have a good grasp on the path I was headed down and how to handle the recovery.

"It was comforting to hear that, and I think we have a good plan going forward."

Ross on signing with Rangers

Ross, who agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal, was the Padres' Opening Day starter in 2016 before going on the disabled list with what was announced as shoulder inflammation. He ended up missing the entire season while doctors tried to figure out the problem. It wasn't until after the season he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition where a rib bone presses on a nerve and causes pain, tingling and numbness.

Ross underwent surgery on Oct. 13 in St. Louis by Dr. Robert Thompson, a renowned expert on thoracic outlet.

"It was tricky to diagnose," Ross said. "All season long, I was rehabbing my shoulder and it turned out to be a nerve issue in my neck. It was sort of checking off boxes: it's not this, it's not that, what could it be? Finally, we looked elsewhere and found the issue. It took a while to figure it out, but we finally got it right in the end and I have been feeling great ever since."

The Padres made him a free agent by non-tendering him this offseason. The Rangers had made attempts to trade for Ross in the past so they were quite interested when he was available. As it turned out, the feeling was mutual.

"I think I made the right choice," Ross said. "This is a great ballclub, first-class organization. I can't wait to get back out there.

"It's a winning culture, they have a fantastic medical staff and they have experience with the rehab I am going through right now. It all came together perfectly and it's a perfect fit."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.