Matt Harrison has gone from a pitcher the Texas Rangers left off their post-season roster to one they believe can become one of the league's best left-handers.
The Rangers finalized a $55 million, five-year contract with the All-Star lefty Thursday. The deal includes a 2018 club option that could become guaranteed depending on the number of innings Harrison pitches.
"This is a testament to all the hard work he puts in," said Thad Levine, the team's assistant general manager. "The talent shows up every time he pitches. ... The more we've gotten to know Matt Harrison, the more we believe in Matt Harrison. And we believe the best is yet to come."
Harrison was 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA and four complete games in 32 starts last year, and his 3.10 ERA in 18 road starts was the lowest in the American League. Over the past two seasons, since being left off the Rangers post-season roster in 2010, he is 32-20 while throwing 399 innings.
Texas acquired Harrison along with shortstop Elvis Andrus and right-hander Neftali Feliz from Atlanta in July 2007 in a seven-player deal that sent Mark Teixeira to the Braves.
The 27-year-old Harrison made his major league debut going 9-3 in 15 starts after being called up in July 2008. After starting the 2009 season in the rotation, he started having issues with his left shoulder that eventually required season-ending surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome to remove a rib to alleviate the situation.
"I was definitely on the other end of the spectrum than I am now. Things weren't really going my way and I had a lot of hit-and-miss starts," Harrison said. "The biggest thing that led up to where I am today is just figuring out that mental toughness and the mental part of the game. The talent was there, it was just figuring out how to use it and use it the right way."
The real turning point for Harrison was the 2010 post-season. After being used primarily as a reliever throughout the regular season while coming back from surgery, he was left off the roster in the playoffs. He travelled with the team through the post-season, but was never on the roster while the Rangers went to their first World Series.
"That moment of being left off the roster was a tough, tough month for me, a tough off-season," he said. "I finally grew up as a person and a man. Mentally things started turning around me, I started having more confidence in myself, success coming around. I started seeing another level come out of me. Hopefully, I can continue to go from that and get better."
Harrison has a career record of 48-30 with a 4.08 ERA in 126 games the past five years, all with Texas.
Nationals ink relievers Storen, Soriano
Relief pitcher Drew Storen has agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year contract with the Washington Nationals, avoiding arbitration.
The agreement Thursday includes $1 million in available performance bonuses for Storen, who was among six extra players eligible for salary arbitration this winter under baseball's new labour deal.
Storen saved 43 games for the Nationals in 2011. He missed more than half of last season after having elbow surgery in April, but reclaimed the closer job for the NL East champions down the stretch and finished 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA and four saves in 37 appearances. The right-hander failed to hold a ninth-inning lead against St. Louis in Game 5 of the NL division series.
Washington signed free-agent closer Rafael Soriano to a $28 million, two-year contract this week.
Joba Chamberlain back with Yankees
Reliever Joba Chamberlain and the New York Yankees have agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,875,000, avoiding salary arbitration.
Chamberlain returned Aug. 1 after being sidelined for 14 months by elbow and ankle injuries. The 27-year-old right-hander went 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 22 games, striking out 22 in 20 2-3 innings.
His deal, which is not guaranteed, gives Chamberlain a raise of $200,000 and contains performance bonuses for games finished.
Two Yankees remain in arbitration: right-hander David Robertson and left-hander Boone Logan.
New York's projected payroll is at about $200 million for 16 players, including $8.5 million the Yankees are paying Pittsburgh as part of last year's trade that sent A.J. Burnett to the Pirates.
OF Will Venable agrees with Padres
Outfielder Will Venable and the San Diego Padres have avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $2,675,000, a raise of $1.2 million.
The 30-year-old hit .264 last year with nine homers and 45 RBIs.
Seven Padres remain in arbitration: shortstop Everth Cabrera; third baseman Chase Headley; right-handers Edinson Volquez and Luke Gregerson; left-handers Clayton Richard and Joe Thatcher; and catcher John Baker.
Carlos Gomez, Brewers settle for 1-year contract
Outfielder Carlos Gomez and the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a $4.3 million, one-year contract, more than doubling his salary.
The 27-year-old hit .260 for Milwaukee last season with 19 homers, 51 RBIs and 37 stolen bases in 43 chances. He made $1,987,500.
Gomez can become a free agent after this season.
Three Brewers remain in arbitration, right-handers John Axford, Burke Badenhop and Marco Estrada. They are set to swap proposed arbitration salaries with the team Friday.
Mets avoid arbitration with Bobby Parnell
Relief pitcher Bobby Parnell and the New York Mets have avoided salary arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.7 million.
The deal was completed Thursday.
Parnell has been a key member of New York's bullpen the past few years. He led the team with 74 appearances last season, going 5-4 with a 2.49 ERA and seven saves. The hard-throwing righty had 61 strikeouts and 20 walks in 68 2-3 innings.
Parnell made $504,000 last season, when he fell just short in service time of being eligible for arbitration. He's been effective as a setup man, but hasn't been able to lock down the closer job despite several opportunities with the Mets.
A pair of New York players remain in arbitration: first baseman Ike Davis and second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Rick Ankiel, Astros agree to minor league deal
Rick Ankiel and the Houston Astros have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
The 33-year-old outfielder batted .228 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 68 games with the Washington Nationals last season. A converted pitcher, he has a .244 batting average with 69 home runs and 233 RBIs in 10 major league seasons with St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta and Washington.
The Astros also agreed Thursday with catcher Jason Jaramillo on a minor league deal with a spring training invite.