ARLINGTON -- Looking for a chance to pitch for a playoff team, right-handed reliever Jason Frasor has agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Rangers.
"He's a proven veteran who brings a competitive presence to our bullpen," Rangers pro scouting director Josh Boyd said Thursday.
Frasor, 35, has spent almost his entire nine-year career with the Blue Jays, and he was 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA in 50 relief appearances for them in 2012. He averaged 10.9 strikeouts, 4.5 walks and 8.7 hits per nine innings.
"From what I understand, there were something like 70 free-agent relief pitchers out there," Frasor said. "You take away the left-handers and the closers and you've got to think there were 40 guys like me. When it appeared the door to Toronto was closed, I just wanted to go to a winner. I was in Toronto for nine years and didn't even smell a playoff race. I'm 35 years old, I feel great, but my window is closing a little bit. I just wanted the chance to be on a great team. I'm thrilled with this opportunity."
Frasor missed six weeks beginning on July 16 with inflammation in his right forearm, marking the first time in his career that he was on the disabled list. He returned in September and had a 4.70 ERA in his final eight appearances while opponents hit .313 off him.
Frasor underwent a physical for the Rangers on Wednesday, and everything checked out fine.
"Perfect, absolutely perfect," Frasor said when asked where he stands physically. "I had a physical yesterday and they took a million pictures -- photos and MRIs. I saw the doctor afterward and he said everything looked great. That goes along with how I feel."
Frasor uses mostly a fastball/changeup combination with an occasional slider. He relies mainly on being aggressive in the strike zone and throwing his fastball in the right spots. His fastball is normally clocked at 92-94 mph.
"If I drink an extra Red Bull, I might throw 95," Frasor said. "I locate my fastball. My second best pitch is my changeup. I'm not a big breaking ball guy. I can go weeks at a time without throwing my breaking ball. I'm pretty aggressive in the zone and like to go after guys. If you can locate your fastball, things should be fine."
During his career, he is 0-4 with a 9.19 ERA in 17 appearances at the Ballpark in Arlington.
"Me and my buddies in the bullpen never liked coming to Texas," Frasor said. "You're facing a team and facing a lineup that just scored a lot of runs. It just seemed like the Toronto Blue Jays were always getting their brains beat out in Texas. It was more the hitters than the stadium. I had good days and bad days, mainly because of the hitters. I'm glad I'm on that side."
Frasor joins a bullpen headed by closer Joe Nathan, and he's the second Texas reliever signed to a Major League contract this winter. The Rangers signed Joakim Soria to a two-year contract, but he missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be ready until sometime in May at the earliest.
The Rangers also acquired reliever Josh Lindblom from the Phillies as one of two players for infielder Michael Young. Lindblom and Frasor right now are the two leading candidates to be Texas' right-handed setup relievers at the beginning of the season. Tanner Scheppers, who was 1-1 with a 4.45 ERA in 39 games as a rookie in 2012, is also high on the list.
Michael Kirkman and Robbie Ross are the most experienced left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster. Ross, who was 6-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 58 games in 2012, could be given a chance to switch to the rotation, but it will most likely depend on if the Rangers add more left-handed depth.
They traded for left-hander Tommy Hottovy from the Royals and right-hander Cory Burns from the Padres, signed right-handers Collin Balester and Evan Meek, and left-hander Neal Cotts to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. They also took right-hander Coty Woods from the Rockies in the Rule 5 Draft. All but Woods have pitched in the Major Leagues, and Meek was an All-Star with the Pirates in 2010 before coming down with shoulder problems.
To make room for Frasor on the 40-man roster, Texas designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment. The Rangers currently have a full 40-man roster.