- Agreed to terms with pitcher Tim Crabtree on a two-year contract with a club option for 2001.
- Agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Mike Morgan, who had been with the Chicago Cubs, on a contract with Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League (AAA) and invited him to spring training as a non-roster player.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Gregg Zaun on Tuesday, Jan 19, avoiding salary arbitration with the recently acquired backup catcher.
Acquired from Florida on November 23, Zaun batted .188 with five home runs and 29 RBI in 106 games with the Marlins last season. He hit .301 in 58 games as a backup to Charles Johnson in 1997, when Florida won the World Series.
The 27-year-old Zaun has 12 homers and 78 RBI in a four-year career with Baltimore, Florida and Texas and most likely will see limited duty behind perennial All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
The Rangers also agreed on one-year deals with five rookies on the major league roster, including outfielder Ricky Williams, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Texas. Williams’ contract was purchased from the Montreal Expos on December 15.
Pitchers Brandon Knight, Corey Lee and Mike Venafro and outfielder Mike Zywica also signed for the 1999 season.
Texas has three players eligible for arbitration — pitchers Tim Crabtree and Aaron Sele and first baseman-designated hitter Lee Stevens.
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (TICKER) — Lee Stevens avoided arbitration with the Texas Rangers today, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract after becoming the third lefthanded hitter in franchise history with multiple 20-home run seasons.
Financial terms were not disclosed for the 6-4 first baseman-outfielder, who collected $1.2 million in 1998.
For the second straight year, the 31-year-old Stevens provided the Rangers with a formidable lefthanded bat, hitting .265 with 20 homers and 59 RBI in 120 games. He joined Pete O’Brien and Rafael Palmeiro as the only Rangers’ lefties to have more than one season with 20 or more home runs.
Stevens excelled in 1997, his first full season with Texas, setting career highs in all offensive categories, including average (.300), homers (21) and RBI (74).
A first-round pick of the California Angels in 1986, Stevens showed potential in their chain from 1987-91, hitting at least 16 homers four times. But he floundered in 191 games at the major-league level and was dealt to Toronto in 1993.
Since then, Stevens has been released three times and signed by four teams, including the Blue Jays, Angels, Cincinnati and finally Texas. He also spent two seasons in Japan, hitting 43 homers in 222 games.
A veteran of just over four major-league seasons, Stevens is a .256 career hitter with 58 homers and 223 RBI.
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (TICKER) — Texas Rangers righthander Tim Crabtree, one of the team’s top middle relievers in 1998, today avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a two-year contract through the 2000 season.
No financial terms were disclosed, although the deal includes a club option for the 2001 season. Crabtree made $290,000 last year.
Crabtree was acquired by the Rangers last March and had the best season of his four-year career. He was 6-1 with a 3.59 ERA in 64 relief appearances and ranked sixth in the American League with 85 1/3 relief innings, the most by a Ranger since 1987.
The 29-year-old Crabtree established career highs for wins, appearances, innings and strikeouts (60) while ranking second on the team in games. He limited lefthanded batters to a .230 average.
Crabtree originally was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round of the 1992 draft and reached the major leagues in 1995. But he was hampered by a shoulder problem during the 1996 season and was limited to just 37 games in 1997 due of surgery on his right elbow.
The Blue Jays gave up on Crabtree following a 1997 campaign in which he went 3-3 with a 7.08 ERA over 40 2/3 innings. He owns a lifetime record of 14-9 with a 3.83 ERA in 175 games.
Pitcher Aaron Sele and infielder Lee Stevens are the only Rangers who remain eligible for arbitration.
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (TICKER) — After tasting the postseason for the first time, Mike Morgan was given a chance to extend his career to a 19th season today by the Texas Rangers.
Morgan, 39, signed a minor-league contract with Texas’ Oklahoma affiliate in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and was granted an invitation to spring training as a non-roster player.
Despite the right-hander’s long career, he had never played in the postseason until a trade from the Minnesota Twins to the National League wild card Chicago Cubs last season. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances in Chicago’s National League Division Series loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Morgan will be joining his 11th organization. Morgan, Ken Brett Tommy Davis and Bob L. Miller are the only others to play for as many as 10 different teams.
Morgan is 121-170 with a 4.08 ERA and three saves in 443 career games, including 381 starts. He started his career with the Oakland Athletics on June 11, 1978, a week after graduating high school.
He played for Oakland from 1978-79, the New York Yankees in 1982, Toronto in 1983, Seattle from 1985-87, Baltimore in 1988, Los Angeles from 1989-91, the Cubs from 1992-95 and again in 1998, St. Louis in 1995-96, Cincinnati in 1996-97 and Minnesota last season.
Morgan was 4-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 games with the Twins and 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in five starts for the Cubs. He had two stints on the disabled list, the first with a strained abdominal muscle and later with a strained left rib cage.
Mike Morgan’s Page on baseball-reference.com
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (TICKER) — Rick Helling, one of four 20-game winners last season, today agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers.
Helling’s agent, Jeff Moorad, said in a teleconference that the 28-year-old right-hander received the largest guaranteed contract for a first-year arbitration-eligible player.
Helling was 20-7 with a 4.41 ERA and helped Texas win its second American League West title in three seasons. He was especially effective at the beginning and end of the season. He became the first Texas pitcher to win his first six starts and finished by going 5-0 in his final eight appearances.
“I wasn’t expecting a long-term contract but I’m happy Doug (Rangers general manager Doug Melvin) came to us and we were able to get it done,” Helling said. “Ever since the day I signed with the Rangers, it has been the organizaton I wanted to be with. For them to go out and extend this contract to a three-year deal just shows that they believe in the kind of pitcher I am and the kind of person I am.”
Helling, who made $216,500 last season, shared the major-league lead in wins with Roger Clemens, David Cone and Tom Glavine. He led the Rangers with 216 1/3 innings and four complete games and tied for the team high with 33 starts and two shutouts.
Helling was the starter and loser in Game Two of the Division Series against the New York Yankees, allowing three runs in six innings.
Texas spent the offseason in an unsuccessful pursuit of Randy Johnson and Clemens, leaving Helling and 19-game winner Aaron Sele as its top two starters. Helling’s name was mentioned in a possible deal for Clemens which never materialized.
“Just going into spring training knowing for the first time I don’t have to compete for a job is something new to me,” said Helling, the AL Pitcher of the Month for September who also led the league with a club-record 11 road wins.
The Fargo, North Dakota native began his career with Texas in 1994 and was traded to the Florida Marlins in September 1996 to complete an earlier deal for John Burkett. The Rangers always saw potential in Helling and re-acquired him from the Marlins on August 12, 1997 for pitcher Ed Vosberg.
Helling is 23-10 since returning to the Rangers and has a career record of 31-23 with a 4.64 ERA. He pitched a perfect game for Class AAA Oklahoma City on August 13, 1996.
The signing of Helling leaves pitchers Sele and Tim Crabtree, catcher Gregg Zaun and infielder Lee Stevens as Rangers still eligible for arbitration.
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) _ Baseball’s grand realignment plan has been put off for at least another year.
Teams will stay in the same divisions for the 2000 season, the owner in charge of the sport’s realignment and scheduling committee said Wednesday.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who two years ago pushed for a radical realignment plan in which more than a dozen teams would have switched divisions or leagues, had hoped for more realignment in 2000, the first year Arizona and Tampa Bay can be shifted without their approval.
But a draft schedule must be given to the players’ association by the end of June and committee head John Harrington, the chief executive officer of the Boston Red Sox, said he had instructed American and National League officials to draw up a 2000 schedule with the current alignment. “We’re waiting to see what happens with these franchises in flux: Montreal, Minnesota, Oakland,” Harrington said. “If they move, there would have to be some sort of realignment. But we can’t forecast that.” The Expos, Twins and Athletics all are seeking new ballparks. The Twins had discussions about a possible move to Charlotte, N.C., but those talks fell through and Minnesota extended its lease at the Metrodome through the 2000 season.
Oakland periodically has talked about moving to San Jose but last month agreed to stay at the Oakland Coliseum for at least three more seasons. Montreal has talking about a possible move if it doesn’t get a new ballpark and the team’s current owners are seeking to sell the franchise to local buyers.
Selig and some other owners are in favor of realigning leagues and divisions geographically. But some teams don’t want to change leagues and be in the same divisions as intracity rivals. For instance, the New York Mets objected to being in the same division as the New York Yankees.
Harrington said he hopes grand realignment will happen but doesn’t know when.
“We’re not giving up on it,” he said. “It’s one of those long-term things.”
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (TICKER) — The Texas Rangers, searching for a backup to perennial All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriquez, today agreed to terms with free agent John Marzano on a minor league contract for the 1999 season.
The deal was struck with Triple-A Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League but the 35-year-old Marzano has been invited to spring training camp as a non-roster player. He earned $300,000 last year.
Marzano spent the last three seasons as a reserve with the Seattle Mariners. In 1998, he batted .233 with four homers and 12 RBI in 50 games. He had a .997 fielding percentage — one error in 342 chances — while starting 40 games behind the plate.
In a 10-year career with the Mariners, Rangers (1995) and Boston Red Sox (1987-1992), Marzano owns a .241 average with 11 homers and 72 RBI in 301 games. He was out of the majors for two seasons after undergoing elbow surgery on May 3, 1993.
Marzano spent the 1995 season in the Texas organization, hitting .309 in 120 games at Oklahoma City before going 2-for-6 in two games with the Rangers late in the season.
Bill Haselman served as the backup to Rodriguez last season, hitting .314 with six homers and 17 RBI in 40 games. But he signed with the Detroit Tigers during the offseason.
The team signed utility infielder Domingo Cedeno to a Class AAA contract after letting go of Rafael Bournigal.
Like Bournigal, Cedeno will have the advantage of being able to communicate in Spanish with talented second-year shortstop Miguel Tejada. Cedeno hit .262 in 61 games last year with Texas, starting 25 games at shortstop, but he also led Texas in pinch hits with six, showing he can be of use to Art Howe off the bench.
The team was looking for another righthanded bat, and Cedeno, a switch hitter, gives the club more flexibility in a lineup loaded with lefthanded hitters. Cedeno and rookie lefthander Mark Mulder will go to spring training as two of the non-roster invitees with the best chances of making the team.
The Rangers signed 41 year old Tony Fossas to a minor league contract for 1999. The contract also includes an invite to the 1999 Spring training camp. Tony signed as a free agent last year and was used in the September stretch drive almost exclusively against left handed hitters.
(Sports Ticker News Story:) Left-hander Tony Fossas, still effective against left-handed batters at the age of 41, today signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers. The pact with Triple-A Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League includes an invitation to major-league spring training as a non-roster player.
With a sweeping curveball, Fossas normally works exclusively against left-handed batters. He was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 10 games with the Rangers after stints with Seattle and the Chicago Cubs. Overall, he was 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA.
Fossas became a free agent after rejecting an outright assignment to the minors by the Rangers. He has pitched in 562 games for six teams during a 10-year career.