ARLINGTON -- Lance Lynn needs a full offseason and Spring Training. The Rangers need a proven pitcher with a track record who can provide a much-needed boost to their rotation.
The two sides appear to be a fortuitous match and the Rangers formally announced on Tuesday afternoon they have reached an agreement with Lynn on a three-year, $30 million contract.
Lynn joins left-hander Mike Minor to give Texas two proven Major League starters at the top of its rotation. The Rangers also have veteran right-hander Edinson Volquez and left-hander Drew Smyly ready to return from Tommy John surgery. Those two did not pitch in the big leagues in 2018, but they are expected to be at full strength come Spring Training.
There is still have much work to do this offseason, but those four veterans give Texas some semblance of a rotation.
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"[Signing Lynn] is a tremendous boost to our group," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Obviously they want to go out and win games, and this move kind of solidifies that at the top of the rotation. We've got some pretty good arms at the top, and from an offensive standpoint, we just look at it as these guys are going to get outs for us, and we're going to go score some runs. It's a huge boost for all of us, just knowing that we're going to push this thing forward, and Lance is going to be a big part of it."
Lynn was a free agent last winter who didn't get a job until signing a one-year deal with the Twins on March 12. He finished 10-10 in 2018 with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in 29 starts and two relief appearances. But the Rangers saw a much-improved pitcher after a July 31 trade to the Yankees. Lynn went 3-2 with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP over his final 11 outings.
"We look at his track record … extremely consistent, durable, winning performer on a Major League staff," Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. "Look at it last year, he really didn't have a traditional offseason or Spring Training. Once he settled in, made a small adjustment in midseason, he was very effective in the American League."
Lynn said the adjustment was suggested by Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston one start before he was traded to the Yankees. Lynn was standing too far toward first base on the pitching rubber and didn't have his feet firmly planted so he could drive off the mound. Once he fixed his footwork, it made a big difference in his pitching.
"Kind of kept me on line toward home plate," Lynn said. "I felt strong with my lower half and was able to throw the ball where I wanted to."
Lynn was the 39th overall pick by the Cardinals in the 2008 Draft out of the University of Mississippi, and he made his Major League debut in 2011. He was part of the Cardinals' bullpen when they beat the Rangers in the '11 World Series before moving into their rotation the following season.
Lynn, an All-Star and 18-game winner in 2012, was 60-38 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP over 126 starts and six relief appearances for the Cardinals from 2012-15. He missed all of 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery but came back strong in '17. Lynn was 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 33 starts that season before becoming a free agent.
Considered one of the top starting pitchers in last year's free-agent market, Lynn had to wait longer than expected to get a job. The Rangers moved quicker on him this winter after J.A. Happ signed with the Yankees and Charlie Morton went to the Rays.
"Just knowing where you are going to be gives you a peace of mind," Lynn said. "I am looking forward to that, getting things situated so I don't have to show up on the fly and get ready for the season. I had two weeks before the season started when I showed up for Spring Training [in 2018]. To have all that, know where I am going to be, and get a place all set up, have a comfort zone and get to know the guys, I'm really looking forward to that and being a part of something here."
The Rangers are still working on their rotation. They have the financial flexibility to continue to pursue free-agent starters, and right-hander Mike Fiers has attracted their attention among the many pitchers still available.
Texas is also exploring which clubs are willing to trade young starting pitching. The Phillies, Mets and Braves are among the teams with depth in that area. The Phillies have interest in Minor, the Mets could use reliever Jose Leclerc in their bullpen and the Braves need outfield help.
The Rangers have multiple options they are still working through as the offseason reaches the halfway point.
"We go into the offseason with an overall plan," Daniels said. "You want everything to fit together as a puzzle, but the reality is you can't control the whole choreography of everything coming together at once. Every move has to make sense on its own, so that's how we view this with Lance.
"Regardless of what happens the rest of the winter, he fits. He fits for us short-term, and he fits going forward. The track record, the consistency, he has been a strong performer and quite frankly, we needed that."