Eaton returns to team that drafted him
A first-round pick by the Phillies in 1996, Eaton is 54-45 with a 4.40 ERA in seven major league seasons. He has been on the disabled list six times in his career, but the Phillies are banking on the right-hander to fill out their rotation.
Eaton, who turned 29 on Thanksgiving, was 7-4 with a 5.12 ERA in 13 starts in his only season with Texas, making $4.65 million. He won 11 games in consecutive seasons with San Diego before he was traded to the Rangers last December.
"He stabilizes our rotation and will complement the rest of our staff nicely," general manager Pat Gillick said.
The Phillies' only other free-agent signing so far this offseason was infielder Wes Helms, who got a $5.45 million, two-year deal. Gillick wanted slugger Alfonso Soriano, but the Chicago Cubs outbid everyone else for the five-time All-Star.
Going into next week's winter meetings, the Phillies want to upgrade their bullpen, add a catcher and still hope to find a right-handed hitter to protect NL MVP Ryan Howard in the middle of the lineup.
Gillick wouldn't comment about reports that the team backed out of a deal with reliever Joe Borowski after he was given an extensive physical. Borowski went 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA and 36 saves in 72 appearances for the Florida Marlins last season.
"Medical situations are tricky to talk about," Gillick said, adding the team has made proposals to other relievers.
Eaton's best season was his final one with the Padres. He went 11-5 with a 4.27 ERA in 22 starts in 2005 after going 11-14 with a 4.61 ERA in 33 starts the previous season.
Eaton had elbow surgery in July 2001 and didn't return until the following September. He missed several starts in '05 with a strained middle finger and didn't make his first start with Texas until late July because of the same finger injury.
The Phillies selected Eaton with the 11th overall pick in the 1996 amateur draft. He was among the highest-rated prospects in the minors when Philadelphia sent him to the Padres in a four-player deal that brought former All-Star Andy Ashby to Philadelphia on Nov. 10, 1999.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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