By Troy E. Renck
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 01/21/2007 03:21:49 PM MST
Familiarity with the region and the genuine interest from the beginning led starter Brian Lawrence to agree in principle with the Rockies on one-year deal with a club option Sunday, according to his agent.
Lawrence was born in Fort Collins and still has relatives in the area. His desire to return home and a full-court press by Rockies' assistant general manager Bill Geivett and special assistant Marcel Lachemann trumped bids by Seattle, Pittsburgh and San Diego.
"Brian is from there, he wanted to pitch in the National League West and the Rockies were the first on him during this process," agent Page Odle said. "It meant a lot to Brian that they were there during all his workouts. He's looking forward to this opportunity to compete."
Lawrence, 30, sat out last season in Washington after undergoing shoulder surgery. From 2001 to 2005, the right-hander was a workhorse for the Padres, logging 934 innings and making 146 starts. He owns a 49-61 career record with a 4.11 ERA.
As the Rockies courted Lawrence, manager Clint Hurdle praised him "as a competitor, someone who has a track record of success." Lawrence is expected in town this week for a physical to complete the deal.
Selling infielder Luis Gonzalez to Japan's Yomiuri Giants cleared a 40-man roster spot for Lawrence. The pitcher wanted a guaranteed deal and the Rockies were seeking a club option as a concession to his health issues. Colorado will exercise patience with Lawrence, who will compete for a spot in the rotation.
If Lawrence is healthy enough to start the season, it's all but certain the Rockies will trade either Byung-Hyun Kim or Josh Fogg. The Rangers have had previous interest in Kim and the Rockies attempted to trade Fogg to Baltimore two weeks before he filed an arbitration salary number much higher than the team expected.
The Rockies are expected to talk with reliever Dan Kolb's agent on Monday, but the lack of any remaining 40-man roster spots may hinder the club's chances. Rudy Seanez is also another possibility to be added to the bullpen mix.