The Rangers have signed right-hander
Ross, 33, opted out of the 2020 season and hasn’t pitched at the big league level since an ugly 2019 run with the Tigers (35 1/3 innings, 6.11 ERA). He’s battled shoulder and elbow troubles throughout his career, including a thoracic outlet procedure back in 2016. This’ll be the second Rangers stint for Ross, who was with the club in 2017 as well.
While injuries have derailed much of Ross’ career, there was a point where he was one of the better young starters in the National League. From 2013-15, Ross tallied 516 2/3 innings with the Padres and turned in a tidy 3.07 ERA with a 24.6 percent strikeout rate. That mark was more impressive at that point, as the league-average strikeout rate for hitters in that three-year span was 20.2 percent — a good bit lower than today’s average 23.4 percent.
Ross hasn’t had much success since that first Padres run, thanks primarily to injuries, but he did mix in a solid 2018 showing amid a series of injury-marred seasons. He returned to the Padres as a free agent in the 2017-18 offseason and gave them 22 starts of 4.45 ERA ball before being traded to the Cardinals and pitching well out of their bullpen. All in all, that 2018 season resulted in 149 2/3 innings of 4.15 ERA output — a far cry from his 2013-15 peak but still plenty useful for both clubs whose uniform he donned.
It’s anyone’s guess whether Ross can shake off the rust and the persistent injuries and return to form in a second go-around in Arlington. That he won’t report to big league camp indicates that he’ll be more of a mid-season option than a candidate to crack the Opening Day roster, but Ross is a no-risk veteran depth stash with a fair bit of MLB success under his belt. There’s no harm in seeing what he can bring to the table at this point, and if he does regain his form, he’s a versatile pitcher familiar with multiple roles who can help the Rangers navigate a 162-game slate that will prove challenging after last year’s 60-game schedule.