CLEVELAND – 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 right-hander Daisu-ke Matsuzaka has agreed to a minor-league contract with Cleveland. Matsuzaka, who pitched for Francona with the Boston Red Sox, must pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.
Pitchers and catchers reported to 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 would be able to earn $2.5 million in performance bonuses based on innings and starts.
He has won 50 games since signing a $52 million, six-year contract with Boston as free agent in 2007. Matsuzaka went 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 starts for Boston in 2007-08. However, he has been 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 comes to camp favored to win the No. 4 spot, leaving Matsuzaka in a group with Scott Kazmir, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and David Huff fighting it out this spring.
Matsuzaka went 15-12 in his first season with the Red Sox in 2007, then was dominant in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and recording 154 strikeouts in 1672/3 innings. He finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.
But his numbers have dropped alarmingly in the past four years. He underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in June 2011. He began last year in the minors before joining the Red Sox and going 1-7 with an 8.28 in 11 starts.
If added to the big league roster, Matsuzaka would be able to earn $700,000 based on innings — $100,000 each for 50, 75, 100, 120, 140, 150 and 160 — and $1.8 million based on starts — $200,000 apiece for eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27 and 30.
The Indians’ preliminary agreement with Matsuzaka comes one day after the club signed Jason Giambi, 42, to a minor-league deal. Giambi spent the past three-plus seasons as a part-time player for Colorado.
REDS: Pitcher Armando Galarraga agreed to a minor-league contract and will try to win a job at spring training.
The 31-year-old right-hander was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts last year with the Houston Astros. He has a 26-34 record with a 4.78 ERA in 91 starts and nine relief appearances over six big league seasons that also included stops in Texas, Detroit and Arizona.
ORIOLES: All-Star closer Jim Johnson and fellow pitcher Jason Hammel agreed to one-year contracts, avoiding arbitration.
Johnson will make at least $6.5 million and Hammel will earn at least $6.75 million, not including performance incentives.
In addition, the Orioles are working toward a $5.8 million, two-year contract with Darren O’Day, subject to a physical.
DODGERS: Mark Lowe agreed to a minor-league contract, giving the team another bullpen option in spring training.
The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 3.43 ERA in 36 relief appearances for the Texas Rangers last year.
DIAMONDBACKS: Catcher Rod Barajas, 37, agreed to a minor-league contract and will compete with Wil Nieves for a backup job behind Miguel Montero.
CUBS: Outfielder Scott Hairston finalized a two-year contract with Chicago.
Hairston, 32, hit .263 with a career-high 20 homers, 57 RBI and 25 doubles last year for the Mets.
Outfielder Tony Campana was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot