FRIDAY: The Rangers have officially announced Hanson's deal and placed lefty Joe Ortiz on the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that Hanson can earn as little as $125K (if he is released) or as much as $3.6MM (if he maxes out his incentives).
TUESDAY, 9:56pm: Hanson does get a major league contract, but it is a split deal that will provide a separate minor league salary, explains Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). In other words, Hanson — who has an option remaining – does not get a $2MM guarantee but will be paid at that rate for such time as he is on the MLB roster.
8:41am: Hanson's deal with the Rangers is actually a Major League deal, not a minor league contract, tweets Heyman. Hanson will earn $2MM (plus incentives) and is likely to be the team's fifth starter.
MONDAY, 8:08pm: Hanson would earn $2MM if he makes the roster, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and can also earn incentives.
Hanson and the Rangers were said to be nearing an agreement late last week. Texas had its fair share of first-hand looks at Hanson in 2013, as the right-hander made three appearances (two starts) against the Rangers in his lone season as a member of the division-rival Angels. Anaheim acquired Hanson from the Braves last offseason in exchange for setup man Jordan Walden.
Three or four years ago, few would have believed Hanson to be available for such a low price. The 6'6" Oklahoma native was ranked the game's No. 4 prospect (by Baseball America) heading into the 2009 season, and in his first three big league seasons (2009-11), Hanson posted a sterling 3.28 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 40.6 percent ground-ball rate. He looked to be well on his way to cementing himself as one of the game's best young pitchers, but that 2011 campaign was cut short by a shoulder injury.
Hanson would go on to suffer a concussion in a car accident the following spring, and he missed time with a back injury in 2012 as well. The result was a 4.48 ERA in 174 2/3 innings, but more troubling was his drop in velocity; Hanson's heater had fallen from an average of 92.7 mph in 2010 to just 89.7 mph in 2012. The Angels elected to gamble on his upside, acquiring him in exchange for an embattled right-hander of their own in Walden.
Things merely got worse for Hanson in the American League. In addition to his injury issues, Hanson suffered the tragic loss of his younger step-brother early in the 2013 season. He missed a full week on the bereavement list and then spent more time away from the game on the restricted list as he tried to cope with the shocking loss. As Hanson told the L.A. Times' Bill Shaikin:
"I was having mental issues with the death of my younger brother. I was just trying to get through it. I didn’t know how to handle it. That was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me. I didn’t know how to cope with it."
Hanson's struggles with the Angels culminated in a 5.42 ERA in 73 innings of work. The Halos non-tendered him in December rather than pay him a small raise in arbitration, and he'll now look to earn a spot in the Rangers' rotation in Spring Training. Texas could certainly use the depth with Matt Harrison coming off a season in which he threw just 10 2/3 innings and Derek Holland out until at least the All-Star break after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee.
Because Hanson currently has just four years, 97 days of Major League service, the deal has added upside for the Rangers. Should he be able to rediscover his early-career magic in Arlington, the Rangers will control Hanson through 2015 season.