Ross Detwiler has always believed that he is a starting pitcher, not the reliever he was last season with the Washington Nationals, and he will be in the Texas Rangers’ rotation in 2015.
General manager Jon Daniels said as much Friday morning after the Rangers announced that they had acquired Detwiler for a pair of minor leaguers, infielder Chris Bostick and right-handed reliever Abel de los Santos.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, which haunted the Rangers in 2014, Detwiler will be one of the five starting pitchers on Opening Day, along with fellow left-hander Derek Holland, righties Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis, and another pitcher.
Daniels said that the Rangers aren’t done looking for a rotation fit, but plugging in Detwiler fills a need.
“We’re still open to adding additional starting depth,” Daniels said. “You can never have enough, and we’ll continue to have conversations about adding another starter. This does take the edge off a little bit. We feel Ross can come in and give us some innings as a starter.”
Detwiler said that his goal is to give the Rangers 200 innings, a plateau he has never reached, but he prepares each off-season to carry that type of load. He was expecting to start last season in Washington before getting shuttled to the bullpen in spring training.
He went 2-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 63 relief innings in 2014, and is 17-29 with a 4.02 ERA in 69 career starts. He features a plus-fastball that sinks, leading to a bunch of ground balls to the left side of the infield.
That formula has worked well for past Rangers lefties, with third baseman Adrian Beltre and shortstop Elvis Andrus gobbling up all those rollers.
“With Beltre over at third, I don’t think it gets any better than that,” said Detwiler, the sixth overall pick in 2007. “I rely heavily on my defense.”
Detwiler, 28, will be in his third year of salary arbitration and projects to make $3.3 million, far below the cost of most the starters on the free-agent market and at a more reasonable prospect cost than other starters available via trade.
That group is thinning, as is the group of free-agent starters. One from a group of Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, Lisalverto Bonilla or Alex Gonzalez stands to occupy the last spot if the Rangers don’t acquire another starter.
Aside from big-ticket starters Max Scherzer and James Shields, whom Daniels insists the Rangers aren’t bidding for, aging righty Jake Peavy and oft-injured lefty Brett Anderson might be the next best in the free-agent group.
The New York Mets didn’t unload any of their starters at the winter meetings, nor did San Diego. The Rangers, though, aren’t sure there is a fit for Mets righty Dillon Gee, from Cleburne, and the Padres are unlikely to trade Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner after trading for Matt Kemp and with their sights set on a trade for Justin Upton.
Daniels plans to keep looking, though. Meanwhile, Detwiler plans to be a key cog in the Rangers’ 2015 rotation.
“The goal is to get 200 innings this year, and I don’t think I’ll have any physical limitations to get there,” Detwiler said. “I didn’t really see myself in a relieving role and I didn’t see myself doing that well. I think I am a starter, and I’m just ecstatic to get a chance to start somewhere.”
The identity of the right-handed reliever the Rangers are expecting to sign next week has been revealed. A source confirmed that Japanese star Kyuji Fujikawa, who had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and struggled in two years with the Chicago Cubs, has agreed to a contract pending a physical. Fujikawa and Darvish are friends and share an agent, Don Nomura.
Fujikawa will receive a one-year contract plus an option year.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760