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Matsuzaka signs minor league deal with Indians

Matsuzaka signs minor league deal with Indians
February 10, 2013
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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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User Comments

Joey
February 13, 2013 - 4:01 PM EST
Fun, optimistic fact for everybody: 23 out of 25 pitchers who underwent UCL reconstruction using their 4 strand palmaris longus graft as replacement, returned to preinjury level of competition. Not that Daiskue's was great but thats promising.

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.
shy
February 11, 2013 - 12:28 PM EST
Look I don't like being negative; the Indians performance w Antonetti as GM is what it is, I can't sugarcoat it. That said I am somewhat excited and hopeful this year, last year at this time I had zero expectations of anything but a lousy season. The key to me is Trevor Bauer. If he makes the team, puts fans in the stands, and energizes the team ala Timmy Lincecum anything can happen. Beyond that we need either Mark Reynolds or Drew Stubbs to have a career year, one more breakthrough position player- maybe a McGuinnes or Yan Gomes and one or two more breakthrough pitchers Armstrong, Salazar, who knows yet. But as has been pointed out who knew Parker, Griffin, Milone, Straily, Cook would break through last year in Oakland. If it happens for the Indians, Antonetti will suddenly look a genius. Billy Beane's IQ is no higher than Antonetti's but he makes his own luck by loving the game and doing the work.
Adam
February 11, 2013 - 11:44 AM EST
Common Cents-
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.
Adam
February 11, 2013 - 11:41 AM EST
How good did anybody really expect Oakland's rotation to be before the season though? They traded Cahill and Gio and most people saw those moves as punting the 2012 season in favor of developing their younger guys. Maybe some people thought Colon could be serviceable after his year in NY, but come on, did anybody expect that season out of him? They had some serious surprises in their rotation last year in a positive way. I'm not saying that's going to happen here, just saying I don't think anybody was calling the A's rotation one of the best in baseball until about mid-season last year.
Common Cents
February 11, 2013 - 11:31 AM EST
The 2011 Oakland A's were about 6 games better than the 2012 Cleveland Indians. Fairly big difference.
Martin
February 11, 2013 - 9:45 AM EST
Adam, I will agree with you about the A's except for one thing... their rotation arms for 2012 were FAR better than our current options. Otherwise, there is much hope.
Adam
February 11, 2013 - 8:07 AM EST
Shy-
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.
The real Jake. Classmate to ibi writer jeff ellis copley class of 2000
February 10, 2013 - 10:46 PM EST
Its amazing how people get so mad or talk poorly about the franchise about a low risk minor league contract. Dice-k is 18 months removed from tommy john surgery and is only 32 thats far from old and washed up. Plus if he stinks at spring training the indians release him and they got a free try out forom a pitch when healthy would be our #2 or #3 pitcher with what they have for starters. I cant see how this is a bad signing. This is typical indians dennis martinez, kevin millwood, carl pavano, orel hershiser. They have done this for years looking forlightning in abottle from an older starter off of a bad season. Great offseason. He indians are better thsn they were at the end of the season. Lastly to say we didnt try to get a young player on the up swing.......trevor bauer. Im out.
Shy again
February 10, 2013 - 8:53 PM EST
Oh and how did I neglect to mention Yoenis Cespedes- the most talented young player in the A.L. with the possible exception of Trout. Beane signed him 3 yrs @36mil- less than Antonetti gave Nick Swisher. Antontetti doesn't know what he's looking at IMO. If he's depending on Jonah Hill and Terry Francona to tell him, the Indians are going to be middle of the pack at best.
Shy
February 10, 2013 - 8:47 PM EST
Adam- I mentioned the Royals and Angels and Giants but I could have named any or all other teams. First, obviously, you have to know the personnel and matchups for your division cause those are the teams you have to beat to put fans in the stands. Second you have to have a familiarity with the always changing catalog of all available players- majors, minors, collegiate and international. Beane has it. That's why he pulls the trigger on the Reddick, Moss, Parker, Griffin, Straily types that are out there every year. Antonetti was not a player and he admitted last year that he doesn't even watch Baseball Tonight. He hired a Sabremetrics stat guy so what. That's why he ended up w Wildbaldo and Derek Lowe. Do you think Beane would have signed those guys? I think he's a front office guy, not a baseball guy. Francona obviously IS a baseball guy, but he is also the field manager and that will take 95% of his time.
MacPhisto
February 10, 2013 - 8:03 PM EST
Let's also not forget the signing of Capps, a guy who can be a good addition to the bullpen if he's healthy.

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.
Adam
February 10, 2013 - 7:57 PM EST
Shy--

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.
(The Real) Common Cent$
February 10, 2013 - 7:42 PM EST
Jake, The Indians might be the best team in MLB at signing washed up players that are multiple years removed from playing above replacement level. I, too, am very excited about that.
Jake
February 10, 2013 - 6:31 PM EST
To put it in perspective, the cream of last year's crop of minor league signings included Felix Pie, Jeremy Accardo, Jose Lopez, and Ryan Spilborghs. This year we have Dice-K, Ryan Raburn, Scott Kazmir, and Rich Hill.

A much much better group of signings, in my opinion.
Roger
February 10, 2013 - 6:27 PM EST
Dice K is younger than i thought i thought he was in his late 30's not just 32. could be good signing but it does muddy up the water however he will pitch in c-bus due to the rehab from surgery and not feel as he was demoted. Not sure capp or hill would so there is no downside to Dice K.
Rich
February 10, 2013 - 6:24 PM EST
Another formerly productive player coming off major injury that they're rolling the Dice on.

Hey it worked when we signed Carl Pavano. You gotta keep trying if you can't afford to sign real pitchers.
Seth
February 10, 2013 - 5:33 PM EST
The minor league signings aren't really spending Dolan's money, Shy. The only way any of these signings matter financially is if the guy looks good and earns a spot on the major league roster. The only time it's a problem is when a lesser veteran guy who's no good bumps someone who's younger, cheaper and better, like with Durbin and Wheeler have made the club the last couple years. I like this year's bunch of minor league signings better than the last couple years, as it's better to go with guys with upside who've been derailed by injuries and the like--Matsuzaka and Kazmir--and guys who were recently decent and coming off sub-par years--Raburn--rather than veterans-for-veterans-sake like Durbin and Wheeler, or guys who have never been good like Aaron Cunningham. I can't see any of the current crop making the team unless they look really good in spring training, and if Kazmir or Dice-K look really good in spring training, I'd be happy to see them get a shot.

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.
Shy
February 10, 2013 - 3:58 PM EST
Taken individually, I think the Dice K is a reasonable signing. But when you look collectively at the guys the Indians have given contracts to past 4 months you have a disproportionately large group of old and/or flawed goods. I guess the philosophy is if one of them turns out to be an impact player, it was all worth it. But basically these guys are falling stars. I would much prefer to see Antonetti and Francona spend their time and Dolan's money finding and cultivating rising ones. One of my major criticisms of Antonetti has been his tendency toward tunnel vision. He doesn't look at what Kansas City is doing or the Angels are doing or the Giants are doing, You can't field a winning team out of a time capsule or a vacuum.
Common Cents
February 10, 2013 - 3:58 PM EST
I actually like the deal. Just like pushing buttons.
Common Cents
February 10, 2013 - 3:34 PM EST
Prediction...Dice K starts Game 1 of the ALCS for the Indians vs. the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. Great signing
Carl
February 10, 2013 - 2:54 PM EST
I like the move. As everyone has said, no risk. Only potential upside. Hey we helped one of Scott Boras clients, maybe a benefit there. I like fact that Tribe is not sitting back , they are being aggressive and I have to believe one or two of the Minor League signings might work out. R Raburn, B Franscio, M Capps, S Kazmir, Jason Giambi and Dice K. I am probably missing a person or two. Last year at least a couple of those guys would HAVE HAD to make the roster. This year if they all fail, it won't be a big deal.
Common Cent$
February 10, 2013 - 2:50 PM EST
Oh, I'm sorry. My bad, bro. Nevermind then. I'm sorry to create the illusion of bias. I was way off base.
Devin
February 10, 2013 - 2:36 PM EST
common cents, if you can't appreciate a good sports site, why are you on it? not to mention, reporting a signing is completely different than endorsing the move. this was an unbiased announcement. save your negative comments for a different article on a different site.

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.
Joey
February 10, 2013 - 2:31 PM EST
I think its going to take a miracle to have Giambi do anything worthwhile, but since its not guaranteed no loss.

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.
MacPhisto
February 10, 2013 - 2:20 PM EST
Never known Tony to just rubber stamp anything the Tribe does. Besides, minor league signings have practically no risk for the Indians. Most of the big leaguers have opt outs and many will not go to AAA if they don't make the team. Some will, but I'd guess a guy like Giambi or Dice-K won't go to Columbus.

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.
Tony
February 10, 2013 - 2:17 PM EST
Common Cents, you obviously missed July and August when we were quite harsh on the Indians and failing at trade deadline. Also, you may have missed my comment on Giambi.....that one makes no sense at all.
common cents
February 10, 2013 - 2:10 PM EST
Of course IPI supports any more the Indians make.
MacPhisto
February 10, 2013 - 2:09 PM EST
No harm, no foul. Matsuzaka has been an overall disappoint since coming over from Japan. One good season and a bunch of mediocre ones. From a MLB production standpoint, Kazmir is the more exciting get if his velocity has returned. He had four straight seasons of ERAs under 4.00 (and the last three were all under 3.50), so he has shown more upside in his MLB career and is under 30.

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.
Tony
February 10, 2013 - 1:57 PM EST
I left my opinion out of the news bit, but I think the pickup is a good one. Low risk with potential for a good return. I don't consider him the favorite for a rotation spot, and he ultimately may just use the Indians this spring to get a job elsewhere (may have an opt out at end of camp....haven't see his opt out date).
Jim
February 10, 2013 - 1:52 PM EST
Curious to see what folks think about this one...the Indians continue to cover their bases. Well don Antonetti...thank Francona daily...it's his club now...

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