Rangers, Padres finalize deal for Eaton, Otsuka

Updated: January 4, 2006, 8:59 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers completed their six-player trade Wednesday with the San Diego Padres to acquire right-hander Adam Eaton, another piece of Texas' completely overhauled starting rotation.

Starting Pitcher
Texas Rangers

24 11 5 44 100 4.27

Texas also got reliever Akinori Otsuka and minor league catcher Billy Killian, sending right-hander Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Terrmel Sledge to San Diego.

Eaton won 11 games in each of the past two seasons, going 11-5 with a 4.27 ERA last year when he had two stints on the disabled list because of a strained middle finger that limited him to 22 starts. He didn't pitch in the postseason for the NL West champion Padres -- even after rejoining the rotation for the final month of the regular season.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Eaton's finger problem isn't a concern.

"It's something our medical staff has assured us is not normally a recurring issue," Daniels said. "We don't see any issues there."

Padres manager Bruce Bochy went with Woody Williams over Eaton for Game 3 of the NL division series against St. Louis. The Cardinals won that game to sweep the series.

"That was definitely frustrating, rushing back and trying to help the team any way I can," Eaton said. "I look forward to San Diego and facing them, show them what they missed."

The Rangers host San Diego for a three-game interleague series June 20-22.

The deal was reached before Christmas but wasn't completed until after physicals and a delay in getting the medical records of Otsuka, who has spent the offseason at home in Japan.

When the deal was made last month, Eaton was a potential No. 1 starter. But the Rangers have since signed Kevin Millwood, the American League ERA champion, to a $60 million, five-year contract.

Former All-Star pitcher Vicente Padilla came to Texas last month from Philadelphia for pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez. The only returners in the Texas rotation are Kameron Loe and Juan Dominguez, rookies who didn't begin last season as starters.

Gone are Kenny Rogers, Ryan Drese, Chris Young, Chan Ho Park and Pedro Astacio -- the starters out of spring training last year.

Eaton had won eight straight decisions, improving to 9-1 before he was injured during a start at Detroit on June 15.

"Barring injury, like I had, I was definitely well on my way to a great year," he said. "I was able to do what I know I'm capable of doing every time out. ... I know what it takes, how to do that. I look forward to a full season."

Eaton has already resumed throwing, and said he feels good, only having the "normal soreness in the shoulder of getting it back going."

Eaton was 47-41 in six seasons with the Padres. He is coming off a $5.3 million, two-year contract and is eligible for salary arbitration. He could become a free agent after next season.

The hard-throwing Otsuka was 2-8 with a 3.59 ERA and one save in 66 appearances last season, after going 7-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 73 games as a rookie in 2004. The right-hander, due to make $1.75 million in 2006, could become a primary setup man for closer Francisco Cordero.

"The acquisition potentially that I think a lot of people aren't spending enough time on is Otsuka," manager Buck Showalter said. "That was something that we didn't have as much as a starter."

Young, at 6-foot-10 the tallest pitcher in Rangers history and a Dallas-area native, was 12-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 starts last season.

Gonzalez is a San Diego-area native who was the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Florida Marlins in 2000. He was traded to Texas in July 2003, but played just 59 games the last two seasons with All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira in the Rangers' lineup.

Sledge came to Texas in the December trade that sent All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano to Washington. He played in just 20 games last year before tearing his right hamstring off the bone chasing a flyball.

"In Gonzalez, Sledge and Young, we've acquired some talented young players who have had success at the major league level," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "Despite giving up some arms in Eaton and Otsuka, we feel that this is a deal that will not only benefit us in the long run, but will also make us a better ballclub in 2006."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press