Cleveland Indians sign Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor league contract
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With at least one spot open in his rotation, new Indians manager Terry Francona will give a pitcher he knows well a shot to win a starting job.
Japanese righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka agreed to a minor league contract with Cleveland on Sunday. Matsuzaka, who pitched for Francona with the Red Sox, must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.
Pitchers and catchers reported to Indians camp in Goodyear, Ariz., on Sunday, with physicals scheduled to take place Monday.
Matsuzaka, 32, would get a $1.5 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster and could earn $2.5 million in performance bonuses based on innings and starts.
If added to the big league roster, he would be able to earn $700,000 based on innings — $100,000 each for reaching plateaus of 50, 75, 100, 120, 140, 150, and 160 — and $1.8 million based on starts — $200,000 apiece for getting to 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, and 30.
Durability was an issue for Matsuzaka in Boston. He started 32 games as a rookie in 2007 but has made more than 20 starts just twice since. He was limited to 18 starts and 83 innings the last two seasons after right elbow surgery in 2011.
Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Brett Myers are the only pitchers with guaranteed spots in Cleveland’s rotation. Zach McAllister entered camp favored to win the No. 4 spot, leaving Matsuzaka competing in a group with Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and David Huff.
The preliminary agreement with Matsuzaka came one day after the Indians signed 42-year-old slugger Jason Giambi to a minor league deal. Giambi spent the last three-plus seasons as a part-time player for the Rockies.
Snag for Felix deal?
As first reported by ESPN Sunday, Felix Hernandez might have an elbow issue that could affect his ability to finalize a long-term extension with Seattle.
The Mariners and their ace last week had the framework in place for a seven-year, $175 million contract. But a recent physical showed something in Hernandez’s pitching elbow that a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN could be “an issue” to completing the megadeal. Hernandez withdrew from Venezuela’s World Baseball Classic roster last week, citing the unresolved extension talks.
On Sunday, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told MLB.com that he’s watched Hernandez “for the last month or so throwing, and he’s his normal self.”
Roenicke backs star
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke strongly defended slugger Ryan Braun on Saturday night, saying he’s upset over the possibility that the 2011 NL MVP was linked to baseball’s latest drug investigation for no good reason.
Braun’s name appears in records from the Biogenesis of America LLC clinic, a defunct business in Coral Gables, Fla., that allegedly provided performance-enhancing substances to a number of players, including Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Nelson Cruz. The original report about the clinic was published by Miami New Times, and Braun’s tie to the clinic was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Braun has said he used the person who ran the clinic, Anthony Bosch, only as a consultant in his defense last year when he successfully fought what would have been a 50-game suspension after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the 2011 postseason. An arbitrator overturned that suspension during spring training last year after finding chain-of-custody issues involving the sample.
‘‘It’s upsetting to me when they make comments when there may be nothing to it, because you can’t take those comments back,’’ Roenicke told the Associated Press.
Braun said his name was in the Biogenesis records because of an issue over payment to Bosch. The records, according to Yahoo, do not show any specific performance-enhancing drugs being listed next to Braun’s name.
‘‘I really care about the guy and I like him,’’ Roenicke said of his star, who batted .319 with a career-high 41 home runs last season. ‘‘This last offseason, tough offseason going through what he did. This offseason, the latest rumors out of here, his name is mentioned again. So he'll have to go through some of that.’’
Braun played college ball at Miami, which has also been linked to baseball’s investigation.
The Orioles avoided arbitration with Darren O’Day by signing the reliever to a two-year, $5.8 million contract that includes a $4.25 million option for 2015. The submariner was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 69 relief appearances last season. Baltimore also formally announced one-year contracts for All-Star reliever Jim Johnson ($6.5 million) and starter Jason Hammel ($6.75 million) . . . After agreeing to the deal Friday, Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill put the finishing touches on a four-year, $40.5 million pact. Hill, who hit a career-high .302 last year with 26 home runs, will earn $5.5 million this season, but then $11 million in 2014 and $12 million in each of the following two seasons . . . The Cubs and outfielder Scott Hairston finalized a two-year contract worth $5 million. The deal had been agreed to last month pending a physical. Outfielder Tony Campana was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot . . . Based on his one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration, Cardinals third baseman David Freese will earn $3.15 million this season — nearly six times the amount he made last year . . . Righthander Armando Galarraga agreed to a minor league contract with the Reds. Galarraga, 31, was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA last year with the Astros . . . Seeking catching depth, the Diamondbacks came to an agreement on a minor league contract with 37-year-old Rod Barajas . . . Reliever Mark Lowe and the Dodgers agreed to a minor league deal.