Matsuzaka signs minor league deal with Indians
The Indians have reportedly agreed to terms on a minor league deal with free agent right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The deal has not yet been made official as he still has to take and pass his physical.
Matsuzaka, 32, is expected to compete for a spot in the Indians starting rotation this spring. If he makes the team he will make a base salary of $1.5 million and has incentives in his deal that could push the total value of the deal to $4 million. Last season he was limited to 11 starts with the Red Sox and went 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA. In 45.2 innings he allowed 58 hits, 11 homers, 20 walks, and had 41 strikeouts. In six seasons with the Red Sox and 117 starts, he owns a career 50-37 record with a 4.52 ERA and has averaged close to a strikeout an inning.
Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery in June of 2011. He came back from the injury in June of last season but was limited the rest of the season. Now over 18 months removed from surgery, he is looking to prove he is 100% and can be an effective pitcher on a big league staff, though will have to prove so on a minor league deal.
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Paletta, George A, Jr, and Rick W Wright. "The Modified Docking Procedure For Elbow Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction: 2-Year Follow-Up In Elite Throwers." The American Journal Of Sports Medicine 34.10 (2006): 1594-1598. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
Yeah the A's were slightly better in 2011 than we were in 2012...but that was largely because of Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, etc. When they traded those guys, they were trading away at least 7-8 wins and got back players who were largely unknown commodities.
I'm just commenting on the general approach. The 2012 Indians offseason is really quite reminiscent of the 2011 A's offseason. They traded some of their bigger name players for younger players. They signed some over the hill veterans and target undervalued talent. And then they made the one big splash, signing Cespedes.
The Indians traded Choo (a fan favorite) for more, younger talent. They've targeted veterans like Reynolds, Aviles, etc. And they made one big splash- Swisher. I'm not going to debate about which move was the best, I'm simply saying that's a pretty logical pattern to follow.
Now, will the 2013 Indians go as well as the 2012 A's did? Who knows? Probably not...but just like the 2012 A's, the 2013 Indians aren't built just for 2013. They still have valuable trade chips in Cabrera, Perez, Masterson, etc. that they can use to further rebuild their youth if they're out of it at the deadline.
Raburn was terrible last year, but before that had proven to be a solid guy coming off the bench with some pop. Due to his power, he could be an upgrade over Carrera as the #4 OF and could plug into a DH rotation that will likely see him, Santana, Swisher, Reynolds, and others all seeing some time there.
Kazmir's main problem has been lost velocity and he had some injuries that he never dealt with. He's 29 and could be a big time steal.
It's worth remembering that the Indians have done well with these types of deals more than once. The greatest unlooked for success was with Casey Blake, the one who the Tribe turned into Carlos Santana. Our starting catcher came from a minor league contract with a ST invite. Less of an impact were Hannahan and guys like Duncan, but they were also minor league contracts.
But Hannahan and Duncan did not have the production at the MLB level that some of the players the Tribe has brought in has. Kazmir, Capps, Raburn, and Matsuzaka all have contributed at the MLB level in good to strong ways.
In seasons past, the minor league deals were about the only offseason activity we saw. but that was not the case this year. We got a big trade, a big signing, and two pretty solid signings. And there's a chance, however slim, that the Tribe could make a play for Bourn or Lohse (or both if I'm dreaming) as full on spring training fast approaches.
I don't expect the Tribe to take the AL Central, but I think they will be competitive and they have at least given us some excitement in the offseason.
I would say Antonetti isn't looking at what the Royals are doing because they are still not a good franchise, and he's not looking at what the Angels are doing because they operate on a completely different playing field than we do. I think he is very much looking at what the A's did last year and what the Rays have been doing for years.
The A's traded some pieces for younger players last year, made one big free agent splash and signed some undervalued commodities on cheap deals, improving their chances of winning in the short and long term. I think that's precisely the model that Antonetti is trying to follow.
A much much better group of signings, in my opinion.
Hey it worked when we signed Carl Pavano. You gotta keep trying if you can't afford to sign real pitchers.
The only thing I really dislike about this offseason is I would've liked to see them sign Marcum and Hafner. Both of those guys if reasonably healthy will be bargains and could've meant serious upgrades. Of course, both could end up on the DL all year, but, think it would've been worth the relatively small investment to take that chance.
as for daisuke... good move. hope his opt out is in may/june so we can give him an extended look in AAA. our rotation down there is going to be really interesting if it ends up with any four of: Bauer/Kazmir/Dice K/Carrasco/Kluber. That's some serious depth.
However, Daiskue is a decade younger and its his first full season away from UCL surgery. I see him having much more potential for impact than Giambi obviously.
And, frankly, the Indians have made a lot of good moves this offseason, so the more positive press is due to the action taken by the FO.
Doesn't hurt to add experienced pitchers. If you sign 10 to minor league deals and 10% make it, then you may at least add one strong contributor while taking no real risk.