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 Daisuke 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.
The Indians' pitchers and catchers reported to camp in Goodyear, Ariz. on Sunday, with physicals scheduled to take place Monday.
The 32-year-old Matsuzaka has won 50 major league games since signing a $52 million, six-year contract with Boston as free agent in 2007. Dice-K 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 favoured 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 pitched in Japan from 1999-2006, going 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA for the Seibu Lions. The Red Sox won a bidding war over several teams to sign him and he went 15-12 in 32 starts in his first season in the AL.
He was dominant in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and recording 154 strikeouts in 167 2-3 innings. He finished fourth in voting for the Cy Young Award.
But Matsuzaka's numbers have dropped alarmingly in the past four years. He has gone 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA and underwent Tommy John reconstructive 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.
The Indians' preliminary agreement with Matsuzka comes one day after the club signed 42-year-old slugger Jason Giambi to a minor league deal.
Giambi could fill a hole at designated hitter for Francona, who has said he's willing to use several players in that role. Giambi spent the past three-plus seasons as a part-time player for Colorado.
A five-time All-Star and former AL MVP, Giambi has 429 career homers — just one in 89 at-bats for the Rockies last season.
Pirates ink starter Liriano
Left-hander Francisco Liriano is guaranteed $1 million US under his contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and can earn up to $13.75 million plus award bonuses over two years if he pitches regularly and an injury to his non-throwing arm doesn't land him on the disabled list.
Liriano and the Pirates agreed in December to a two-year contract pending a physical but he injured his right arm during the holidays and it took until Friday to finalize the reworked agreement. He can make $5.25 million this year and $8.5 million in 2014 if he pitches 200 innings a season.
Liriano has $3.75 million in available roster bonuses this year under the deal based on days on the active big league roster or the disabled list, not including days on the DL as the result of the pre-existing injury to his right arm. He would get $250,000 each for 60 and 75 days, $750,000 apiece for 90, 120, 150 and 180 days and $125,000 each for 135 and 165 days.
The deal includes a 2014 option that would become guaranteed at $5 million if he has 90-119 days on the active 25-man big league roster or DL this year, not including days on the DL because of the right-arm injury. It would become guaranteed at $6 million if he has 120-149 days and at $8 million if he has at least 150 days.
If the 2014 salary is $5 million, he would earn $600,000 each for five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 games started. If the 2014 salary is $6 million, he would earn $400,000 for each of those levels,
In addition, he can earn $500,000 a year in performance bonuses: $150,000 each for 180 and 200 innings, and $200,000 for 190 innings.
Liriano also would get $325,000 for winning the Cy Young Award, $150,000 for finishing second in voting and $100,000 for third. He would get $50,000 if he's an All-Star, $50,000 if he's the World Series MVP, $25,000 for winning a Gold Glove and $25,000 if he's league championship series MVP.
The 29-year-old is 53-54 with a 4.40 ERA in seven major league seasons. He went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 2012 while splitting the season between the Twins and White Sox.
He pitched a no-hitter for Minnesota against the White Sox on May 3, 2011.
David Freese to earn $3.15M with Cardinals
Former World Series MVP David Freese will earn $3.15 million under his one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, nearly six times the $518,000 he made last year.
A St. Louis County native, Freese hit .283 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs last season and earned his first All-Star appearance. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time.
Freese, MVP of the 2011 World Series win over Texas, had asked for $3.75 million and had been offered $2.4 million when players and teams exchanged arbitration figures last month.
Friday's agreement made Freese the final player to settle among the three Cardinals who filed for arbitration.
Johnson, Hammel get 1-year deals
All-Star closer Jim Johnson will make $6.5 million and pitcher Jason Hammel will earn $6.75 million under their one-year contracts with the Baltimore Orioles.
In addition, the Orioles were working toward a $5.8 million, two-year contract with Darren O'Day. The agreement, subject to a physical, would pay him $2.2 million this year and $3.2 million in 2014. The Orioles would have a $4.25 million option for 2015 with a $400,000 buyout.
Johnson can earn an additional $50,000 in performance bonuses under Friday's agreement: $50,000 each for 50 and 55 games finished. Hammel can make an extra $300,000 in performance bonuses: $100,000 for 25 games started, and $100,000 each for 175 and 190 innings pitched.
The three right-handers were Baltimore's only players in arbitration.
The 29-year-old Johnson led the majors with a franchise-record 51 saves last season. He went 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award.
Johnson asked for $7.1 million in arbitration and was offered $5.7 million when teams and players swapped proposed salaries. He earned $2,775,000 last year.
Hammel, 30, was 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts for Baltimore last season. He requested $8.25 million while the Orioles countered at $5.7 million after he made $4.75 million in 2012, his first season with Baltimore.
O'Day, also 30, was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 69 relief appearances. He submitted $3.2 million, with the club at $1.8 million.
Aaron Hill gets $11M in 1st year of deal
Infielder Aaron Hill's $40.5 million, four-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks calls for salaries of $11 million in 2014 and $12 million in each of the following two seasons.
The 30-year-old Hill was signed for $5.5 million this year and agreed to the new deal Friday.
He hit a career-high .302 last year with 26 homers, 44 doubles and 85 RBIs.
Galarraga gets minor league contract with Reds
Pitcher Armando Galarraga has agreed to a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds 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. When he pitched for Houston on July 28, it was his first major league appearance since May 16, 2011, for Arizona.
Galarraga 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 and Detroit.
He lost a perfect game on June 2, 2010, while pitching for Detroit when first base umpire Jim Joyce called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe on what replays showed should have been the final out of the game. Joyce admitted after the game that his call was incorrect.
Cincinnati announced the agreement Saturday.
Dodgers, Mark Lowe agree to minor league deal
Mark Lowe and the Los Angeles Dodgers have 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, when he didn't pitch in the major leagues from June 25 to Aug. 10 because of a strained muscle in his right side.
He will compete for a job in a crowded bullpen as the high-spending Dodgers try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
His agreement was announced Friday.
Hairston, Mets finalize 2-year deal
Outfielder Scott Hairston and the Chicago Cubs have finalized a two-year contract.
The 32-year-old Hairston hit .263 with a career-high 20 homers, 57 RBIs and 25 doubles last year in his second season with the New York Mets.
He also has played for Arizona (2004-07), San Diego (2007-09, 2010) and Oakland (2009) during a nine-year big league career. Hairston has a .247 career average with 95 homers and 279 RBIs.
The deal had been agreed to last month pending a physical and was completed Sunday. Outfielder Tony Campana was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot. Chicago has 10 days to trade him, assign him outright to the minor leagues or release him.