Indians Sign Daisuke Matsuzaka

Greg Fiume

Hours after signing Jason Giambi, the Indians have inked another former great to a minor league deal.

The Indians have signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor league deal, said to include a $1.5 million base salary if he passes a physical and makes the team. If he makes the Major League roster and sticks for most of the season, he can earn up to $4-5 million (specifics of what benchmarks trigger bonuses are not yet known).

Matsuzaka more than delivered on the hype around him in 2008, when he posted an ERA of 2.90 (ERA+ of 160) and finished 4th in the A.L. Cy Young voting. In the last four years though, he's been a mess, as you can see from looking at his career numbers:

Year Age W L ERA GS CG SHO SV IP SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2007 26 15 12 4.40 32 1 0 0 204.2 201 108 1.324 8.4 1.1 3.5 8.8
2008 27 18 3 2.90 29 0 0 0 167.2 154 160 1.324 6.9 0.6 5.0 8.3
2009 28 4 6 5.76 12 0 0 0 59.1 54 81 1.871 12.3 1.5 4.6 8.2
2010 29 9 6 4.69 25 0 0 0 153.2 133 93 1.373 8.0 0.8 4.3 7.8
2011 30 3 3 5.30 7 0 0 0 37.1 26 82 1.473 7.7 1.0 5.5 6.3
2012 31 1 7 8.28 11 0 0 0 45.2 41 53 1.708 11.4 2.2 3.9 8.1
6 Yrs 50 37 4.52 116 1 0 0 668.1 609 101 1.418 8.4 1.0 4.3 8.2
162 Game Avg. 15 11 4.52 34 0 0 0 195 178 101 1.418 8.4 1.0 4.3 8.2

Like the Jason Giambi signing, this is a move with almost no risk. Matsuzaka is 32, plenty young enough to turn in some quality pitching. Tommy John surgery led to him missing much of 2011 and 2012. Perhaps, further removed from the operation with far more recovery time under his belt, he's finally ready to pitch well again.

I like what the Indians are doing, continuing to add potentially helpful pieces, rather than resting on what they've got. Most of the recently signed spring training invitees aren't likely to do much (or play for the Indians at all), but there's a good shot at least one of them does, and their combined cost is still low. Forget the star Matsuzaka was in Japan and with Boston in 2008, if he can get back to his 2010 form, when he was roughly league average, he could help the Indians rotation bounce back from its dreadful 2012.

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