Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yanks Sign Mark Prior to Minor-League Deal

Cliff Lee was not the only pitcher the Rangers were hoping to retain and vie with the Yankees for.

According to this article in The New York Times, Rangers pitcher Mark Prior received offers from both teams. After days of deliberation, he's chosen to sign with the Yankees.

If you didn't already know, Prior was originally drafted by the Yankees in 1998 as the 43rd pick in the amateur draft. He never signed with the team, and was selected 3 years later by the Cubs as the 2nd pick in the 2001 draft (Minnesota's Joe Mauer was the 1st pick). He made his debut with the Cubs in 2002, but had a so-so year with a 6-6 record and 3.32 ERA in 19 games. In 2003, his first full season, he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA. That year, he was elected to the All-Star game, ranked 3rd in CY Young voting and came in 9th in voting for the NL MVP Award.

Prior was never the same dominant pitcher though after 2003, as he became plagued with shoulder and elbow injuries. He stayed with the Cubs until 2006, which is also the last season he's pitched in the majors. In the interim, he's had several surgeries and one inning of baseball with the Rangers' Oklahoma City AAA team last season. Dusty Baker, Prior's former manager with the Cubs, has been widely blamed for overusing Prior, thus resulting in his breakdown.

The Yankees are hoping that Prior will add needed depth to their bullpen. His contract will pay him $750,000 guaranteed, with an additional $750,000 in incentives if he makes the team out of Spring Training. He will be reunited with Larry Rothschild, his former Cubs pitching coach who now holds that position for the Bombers. Prior may also be reunited with former teammate Kerry Wood if the Yankees can re-sign him.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

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