CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – An interesting race for a spot at the end of the Indians starting rotation got more interesting on Wednesday with the passing of the physical of new Indians pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The former Red Sox pitcher was inked by the Indians on Sunday, but the deal wasn’t official till he passed the teams physical in Goodyear, AZ on Wednesday.
Now that he’s in the mix, he joins a number of others trying to win one of the last two spots in the rotation.
Who would he have to overcome for a chance to join the team out of camp? Zack McAllister, who for now is slated to be the number four in the rotation, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bauer, and David Huff.
With a couple other teams in the mix for Dice-K, it wasn’t cheap to get him to agree to terms. He inked a deal that will pay him $1.5 million in base pay if he makes the 25-man roster with a chance to bump it to $4 million with incentives.
“I just want him to be Daisuke,” manager Terry Francona said.
Last season was a disaster for Matsuzaka, as he went 1-7 following Tommy John surgery. He had the surgery in 2011 on his right elbow, but word was he showed flashes of having his velocity back during winter ball, a good sign.
“Last season, coming back from Tommy John,” Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler to reporters in Goodyear Wednesday. “It was a daily battle figuring out how I felt, how my elbow felt and how my body felt.
“People around me last season told me [I was] fine, but I was still trying to figure out, within myself, how much my body can do and what condition it was in.”
Matsuzaka is 50-37 in the big leagues, but has had moments of being dominant, like the 2008 season when he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA.
He’s a player that Francona knows well with his time in Boston, and feels that two years removed from his surgery, he will be a lot more like the Dice-K of 08 than the one that was a shell of his self in Boston last year under Bobby Valentine.
As many Indians fans know, the team is not afraid to take chances on players that are trying to revive their career.
Remember in 2005 when the Indians inked veteran pitcher Kevin Millwood to a one-year deal worth $7 million? All he did was lead the American League in ERA with a 2.86 and pitch well enough to earn a 5-year deal worth $60 million with Texas.
Matsuzaka may not be quite that good, but the Indians are not asking him to be. All they want is for him is to add some stability to the back end of the rotation.
He’s got a lot on the line, basically his pitching life. If he can show some signs of being near the form that made him for a time very good in Boston, the Indians will gladly take it.
Unlike the huge deals they have invested in with players like Nick Swisher and now Michael Bourn, the deal for Matsuzaka is really a no lose one for the Tribe.