- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Free-agent pitcher Brandon Webb has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rangers, pending a physical, according to an official of a club that had interest in Webb.
Webb's deal is for $3 million plus incentives, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney. The total package could be worth in the range of $8 million to $10 million, a source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
In conjunction with Webb's arrival in Texas, sources told Crasnick the pitcher has asked to wear uniform No. 33 as a tribute to his late friend, college roommate and baseball teammate, Jon Hooker. Webb previously wore uniform No. 17 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hooker, who played with Webb and Joe Blanton at the University of Kentucky, died in a plane crash a day after his wedding in August 2006. Hooker and his wife, Scarlett, were on the first leg of a trip from Lexington, Ky., to their honeymoon in California when their plane crashed and burst into flames. All 47 passengers and two of the three crew members aboard the Comair commuter jet were killed in the accident.
The Rangers had stepped up their interest in the 31-year-old right-hander after losing Cliff Lee to the Phillies two weeks ago. The Rangers viewed Webb as having the most upside of any free-agent starter remaining on the market.
From 2006 to '08, while pitching for Arizona, Webb won one Cy Young Award and finished second twice. He has missed all but four innings of the past two seasons with shoulder problems.
In August 2009, Webb had shoulder debridement surgery, which essentially cleans out loose debris and inflamed tissue. Medical reports on him this winter have been promising, and his agent, Jonathan Maurer, said during this month's winter meetings that Webb is healthy and preparing "normally" for spring training.
Webb pitched in the Arizona Instructional League last year.
Clubs interested in Webb have been told he preferred a one-year contract in an effort to restore his value. All teams negotiating with Webb were asked to make a guaranteed big league offer, with incentives based on games started and/or innings pitched.
The Rangers were one of four teams pursuing Webb aggressively this month, along with the Cubs, Nationals and an NL Central "mystery team" that was widely believed to be the Cincinnati Reds.
Earlier Sunday, sources said Webb had eliminated the Cubs and Nationals and was close to a decision on signing with one of the two remaining clubs.
Webb will be joined in the Rangers' rotation by left-hander C.J. Wilson, who won 15 games, and Colby Lewis. Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland are leading candidates for additional rotation spots. Left-hander Michael Kirkman could also factor in along with closer Neftali Feliz, who will be stretched out for spring training so the club can decide whether to insert him in the rotation or leave him as a closer, where he won AL Rookie of the Year honors after saving 40 games.
The Rangers also signed pitcher Seth McClung, who did not pitch in 2010 after he was released in March by the Marlins, to a minor league contract. They'll evaluate him in spring training.
Senior writer Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett was used in this report.
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