Nats reach deals with 2 pitchers

December 30, 2005

Right-handers Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas Jr. agreed to one-year deals with the Washington Nationals, who are piecing together a starting rotation.

Ortiz, who signed for $2.5 million, was 9-11 with a 5.36 ERA in 30 starts for Cincinnati last season. He has made at least 30 starts in four of the past five years and is 68-60 with a 4.72 ERA for his career.

Armas, who will earn $2.1 million, went 7-7 with a 4.97 ERA for Washington in 2005, going 0-2 with a 9.75 ERA in his last three starts. His final appearance came on Sept. 1, and he later had surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Ortiz, 32, joins a rotation anchored by Livan Hernandez and John Patterson. The Nationals also have starters Brian Lawrence and Ryan Drese, along with Armas.

Pirates -- Free-agent third baseman Joe Randa and the team were close to an agreement on a $4 million, one-year contract. Randa, 36, hit .276 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs in 155 games with San Diego and Cincinnati last season. Several details of the deal remained to be finalized, but they were not seen as an impediment. Randa, a four-time .300 hitter, has a .285 average with 119 home runs and 711 RBIs in 1,433 career games, mostly with Kansas City.

Yankees -- Reliever Octavio Dotel agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract after beginning last season with Oakland but not pitching past May because of major elbow surgery. Dotel, a 32-year-old free agent, joins a Yankees bullpen that was erratic all season. He will earn another $250,000 once he is added to the active major league roster. The right-hander was 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 15 games for Oakland in 2005 before being placed on the disabled list May 19 and undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. In his 15 appearances, he limited opposing batters to a .185 average and held right-handed hitters to just three hits in 28 at-bats (.107). He has 481 strikeouts in 389 2/3 innings as a reliever since the 2001 season, the most in the majors.

Rangers -- Pitcher Kevin Millwood signed his $60 million, five-year contract. Millwood was 9-11 with a 2.86 ERA that led the American League this year, his only season with Cleveland. The 31-year-old right-hander rejected a salary arbitration offer from the Indians, and also was pursued by Boston. After being limited to 25 starts for Philadelphia because of elbow swelling in 2004, Millwood went to the Indians in a one-year deal. In nine major league seasons, Millwood is 107-75 with a 3.76 ERA. He won at least 17 games in three of his six seasons with Atlanta (1997-2002) and was an All-Star in 1999. He pitched two seasons for Philadelphia before going last year to the Indians, who averaged only 3.6 runs in his starts - third-lowest among AL starters.

Marlins -- Infielder Pokey Reese and right-hander Joe Borowski signed one-year contracts. Reese, whose deal is worth about $800,000, spent all of last season on the disabled list with the Mariners after surgery on his right shoulder. He hit .221 in 96 games with Boston in 2004. A two-time Gold Glove winner, Reese has batted .248 with 44 home runs and 271 RBIs over eight seasons in the majors. He's a potential successor to Luis Castillo, traded to Minnesota as part of the Marlins' offseason payroll purge. Borowski went 1-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 43 games last season for the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay. He is 14-23 with 44 saves and a 3.90 ERA in nine seasons in the majors. The Marlins are his sixth team.

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