The Rangers will get their best postseason pitcher back next year.
Colby Lewis, who has been out since elbow surgery in July, has agreed Monday to a $2 million, 1 year contract extension for 2013.
Instead of sending Lewis into free agency this winter uncertain about his immediate future and injured – the right-hander likely won’t throw until at least January – the 2-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers gave him an unexpected new deal. They hope he’ll be able to return and help them again sometime next season.
“There were a lot of questions … rolling into the offseason and not knowing,” Lewis said. “This sure makes things a lot more comfortable in the offseason. It’s simply a good opportunity. I believe they’re allowing me to get right, get healthy and do it the right way.”
Lewis, who turned 33, last month, was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts this season before the surgery July 27 to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.
Originally drafted by the Rangers in 1999 with a compensation pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds, Lewis is 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA in 80 starts since rejoining the team in 2010 after 2 seasons in Japan. He is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 8 postseason starts — 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 3 World Series games.
Lewis can earn up to $4 million more in incentives when he gets back on the mound.
Assistant general manager Thad Levine said he and GM Jon Daniels were talking during a game during the past 2 weeks when the question arose about how Lewis was feeling.
They questioned if Lewis was enjoying the Rangers’ latest playoff drive or if the pitcher wondered if he was in his last games of wearing a Texas jersey and how he would rehab in the winter.
“I think J.D. and I both came to the same conclusion, that was unacceptable,” Levine asserted. “We view Colby as an essential part of this franchise, this family. He’s earned it, he deserves it. … We want him to have peace of mind.”
The Texas Rangers sometimes don’t do such agreements during the season. But they got the go-ahead from team president Nolan Ryan and quickly put together a new contract for Lewis, even knowing he won’t be back in their rotation till the middle of next season.
Lewis was the Rangers’ opening day starter this year, even after they added Japanese star Yu Darvish to their rotation.
It has been almost 8 weeks since surgery for Lewis, who recounted he will soon begin to do some exercises and stretching. He could start throwing again in January. Scores
Daniels announced the Rangers don’t know exactly when Lewis will be able to make his 1st start next season.
“Somewhat the goal behind this deal is take away some of the pressure on Colby to rush back and put himself at risk,” Daniels claimed.
“But whatever that day is at some point during next season, we feel very good about the person, the pitcher and what we are going to get out of him, and help us hopefully in another contending year.”