ARLINGTON, Texas — Not optimistic about their pursuit of free agent Barry Zito, the Texas Rangers acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Chicago White Sox in a five-player deal on Saturday.
The Rangers gave up 2003 first-round pick John Danks, a 21-year left-hander who hasn’t yet pitched in the major leagues, and right-handers Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner in exchange for McCarthy and 18-year-old outfielder David Paisano.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels insisted the acquisition of McCarthy, a 23-year-old right-harder, wasn’t directly related to the team’s waning hopes of adding Zito.
“I don’t want to get into specifics about our discussions other than to say that I’m not terribly encouraged about our chances,” Daniels said on a conference call. “Regardless of whether or not we felt we were going to be able to sign somebody like Barry, we would have made this deal. This is about the future with Brandon.”
McCarthy already has 65 major league appearances (12 starts), and is 7-9 with a 4.39 earned-run average. He has 117 career strikeouts while walking only 50 batters in 151 2/3 innings.
McCarthy worked primarily out of the bullpen for the first time last season, and was 10th in the AL with 75 1/3 innings worked in relief. The Rangers plan to use him as a starter.
“We’re thrilled to add Brandon McCarthy to our rotation and expect he’ll be there for many years to come,” Daniels said. “It’s never easy to deal young players you’re fond of, but Brandon’s age, makeup, and ability is a rare combination we could not pass on.”
McCarthy, whose rights will be held by the Rangers for at least five years, will join a rotation with 16-game winner Kevin Millwood and 15-game winner Vicente Padilla, a veteran duo both signed through at least 2009. Robinson Tejeda, a 24-year-old right-hander, went 5-5 with 4.28 ERA in 14 starts last season.
“This gives us four starters that we feel very comfortable going into next year with,” Daniels said.
While Daniels said there are internal candidates for the fifth spot, the Rangers are still interested in Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner.
“It’s certainly not over,” Daniels said.
Daniels wouldn’t be specific about the Zito situation, but said “be careful believing the rumors out there” — including some that the Rangers have offered the left-hander more than $100 million. Rangers owner Tom Hicks has also said such reports were untrue.
Texas is also still talking to free agent left-hander Mark Mulder, who is coming off shoulder surgery in September and won’t be ready to pitch at the start of the 2007 season.
Both Zito and Mulder visited Rangers officials in Texas over the last month.
Danks split last season between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma, where he combined to go 9-9 with a 4.24 ERA in 27 games (26 starts). He has a career minor league record of 21-30 with a 4.20 ERA in 92 games (82 starts).
Masset made his major league debut last year with Texas, with no record and a 4.15 ERA in eight relief appearances. Rasner spent the entire 2006 season at Class-A Clinton, going 6-16 with a 5.41 ERA in 27 starts.
The 18-year-old Paisano appeared in 52 games for the White Sox Venezuelan Summer League team in 2006 and batted .338 with no home runs and 17 RBI.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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