LAS VEGAS -- The Rangers were able to land a significant free-agent starter for their rotation when they reached an agreement with right-hander Lance Lynn on a three-year, $30 million contract on Wednesday, according to Major League sources.
The Rangers have not yet announced the transaction because Lynn has yet to undergo the required physical. The deal is similar to the three-year, $28 million contract given to Mike Minor last offseason.
Lynn, 31, had been one of the Rangers' free-agent targets since they arrived at the Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. He joins left-hander Minor in giving the Rangers two proven veteran pitchers for the top of the rotation. The Rangers had also been in the hunt for left-hander J.A. Happ, who appears headed to the Yankees, and right-hander Charlie Morton, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Rays on Wednesday.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels declined to discuss the Lynn signing because the deal is not yet official. But the Rangers' need for pitching is well-known, and Lynn likely won't be the club's final move. The Rangers have the financial flexibility to add more than one free-agent pitcher.
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"We clearly need to add innings, quality and quantity," Daniels said. "There are different ways building a staff, but obviously the clear priority and will continue to be is to build a pitching staff. It's a long-term mindset, part of that is not overexposing the young guys before they are ready."
Lynn was a free agent last winter, but didn't sign until March 12 with the Twins. He agreed to a one-year deal, but the long wait and short Spring Training might have reduced his effectiveness after five-plus productive seasons in the Cardinals' rotation.
He was also entering his second full season after missing 2016 because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He pitched well in his first year back, going 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP over 33 starts for the Cardinals in 2017. But he struggled with the Twins, going 7-8 with a 5.10 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP in 20 starts for the Twins.
The Twins traded to Lynn to the Yankees on July 30, and the change of scenery did him well. He went 3-2 with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP in nine starts and two relief appearances for the Yankees. Over his final four outings, he was 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 17 and walking just four in 19 innings.
Also significant is that during Lynn's time with the Twins, he averaged 8.8 strikeouts and 5.5 walks per nine innings. After going to the Yankees, he improved in both areas with 10.1 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings.
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Lynn was originally taken by the Cardinals with the 39th overall pick in the 2008 Draft out of the University of Mississippi. He was used mainly as a reliever in 2011 before moving into the rotation in 2012. Overall, he made 161 starts and 22 relief appearances for the Cardinals during his time in St. Louis, going 72-47 with a 3.43 ERA.
The Rangers also have right-hander Edinson Volquez and left-hander Drew Smyly, two veteran pitchers who are coming off Tommy John surgery. Volquez did not pitch this past season, and Smyly has missed two years while recovering from the surgery.
Both will come to Spring Training with a chance to be in the rotation, but aren't viewed with the same certainty as Minor and Lynn. The Rangers will continue to be aggressive in the search for pitching.
"More unknown with those guys," Daniels said. "Volquez, we saw the whole rehab, we know he looked good. Smyly, we didn't do the rehab, feel fairly comfortable there. You feel as good as you can feel, but when guys miss time, you have to understand going in there is risk."
• The Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. Two possible prospects the Rangers might lose in the Draft are left-hander Wes Benjamin and right-hander Reed Garrett.
• The Rangers took outfielder Carlos Tocci from the Phillies in last year's Rule 5 Draft and kept him on the Major League roster all season. He ended up hitting .225 in 65 games, and Daniels said Tocci will likely play regularly at Triple-A Nashville this season to make up for lost time.
• The Rangers have not been in touch with free-agent pitcher Derek Holland, who was with the Giants this past season. The former Rangers starter is hoping for a return to San Francisco.