Convinced that Astacio is healthy after watching him pitch this winter, Texas agreed Friday to an $800,000, one-year contract with the 35-year-old right-hander. He can earn another $2.2 million in roster and performance bonuses.
Astacio made just one start and four relief appearances last season for Boston in his comeback from June 2003 shoulder surgery while with the New York Mets. He gave up 10 runs and 13 hits in 8 2/3 innings, a 10.38 ERA.
"We obviously recognize the health issues Pedro has had. We watched his workouts and feel pretty good about where he is physically," gneral manager John Hart said. "He is a quality guy and a great competitor."
Hart, manager Buck Showalter and owner Tom Hicks met with Astacio last month while in the Dominican Republic. They also got a chance to watch him work out and had scouts at his winter league games.
In 13 major-league seasons with Los Angeles, Colorado, Houston, the Mets and Boston, Astacio is 118-109 with a 4.61 ERA. He has 1,544 career strikeouts, averaging 7.2 per nine innings.
"I feel 100 percent, the way I used to be all the time before I had this surgery," Astacio said. "It has taken me a long time to get it back."
After being traded from Colorado to Houston for the pennant chase in 2001, his season ended early because of inflammation in his right shoulder. Astacio began 2003 on the disabled list with tendinitis in his shoulder and then was 3-2 with a 7.36 ERA in seven starts before surgery.
Rangers medical officials checked Astacio on Friday, and the team also conferred with Dr. Lewis Yocum in California, who performed the surgery.
"No pitcher is without risk, but (they said) Pedro would be a very good risk for us to take," Hart said.
Astacio will be reunited in Texas with pitching coach Orel Hershiser and starter Chan Ho Park, both teammates during his time with the Dodgers (1992-97).
"It was the best opportunity to make a contribution, a team that really needed him," said his agent, Steve Schneider. "The level in interest in Pedro sustained a quantum leap following his performance in the Dominican playoffs."
Texas also claimed right-hander reliever Ryan Bukvich off waivers from San Diego. Bukvich spent his entire career in the Kansas City organization before being traded to San Diego as part of the Terrence Long deal in November. He was 2-0 with a save in 44 appearances for the Royals the past three seasons and had 35 strikeouts and 35 walks in 42 2/3 innings.