- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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The Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals continued to show strong interest in Brandon Webb on Tuesday, while a third reported suitor, the Chicago Cubs, fell off the pace in their pursuit of the free-agent starter.
A source confirmed that Webb, the 2006 National League Cy Young Award winner, planned to talk by phone Tuesday with Rangers manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux. General manager Jon Daniels has already spoken with Webb to gauge the pitcher's interest in coming to Arlington, a source said.
The Rangers, who lost out to the Philadelphia Phillies in a recent bid to sign free agent Cliff Lee, have been active in their efforts to acquire another starter. At the moment, Texas' rotation consists of C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter. Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman are also candidates to start for the Rangers, and Texas hasn't ruled out the possibility of moving closer Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers also signed former Brewers starter Seth McClung to a minor league deal over the weekend.
The Rangers see Webb as a potential high-upside acquisition, even though he pitched a total of only four innings in 2009-10 because of shoulder problems. Dr. Keith Meister, Texas' team physician, did a cleanup of Webb's right shoulder in August 2009, and one club official recently told ESPN.com that Meister's familiarity with Webb's medical history has contributed to the team's "comfort level'' with the pitcher.
Now that Lee has signed with the Phillies, Webb and Carl Pavano are the most accomplished starters left on the market. While Pavano is seeking a multiyear contract after winning 17 games for Minnesota in 2010, Webb is looking for a one-year deal that will allow him to re-establish his value and go back on the open market next winter.
It's uncertain if Webb will decide on his new team by the weekend. An unidentified National League Central team has expressed late interest, according to a source, but Webb is already several weeks along in the decision process.
Contrary to recent reports, the Nationals have maintained an active interest in Webb this week, even after signing Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal for $1 million plus incentives. Washington general manager Mike Rizzo was the scouting director in Arizona when Webb was establishing himself as one of baseball's most durable and productive starters.
Webb posted a 70-37 record for Arizona from 2005 through 2008, and averaged 227 innings per season over a five-year stretch with the Diamondbacks.
Senior writer Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com.