By: T.J. Zuppe
After the Cleveland Indians added veteran DH Jason Giambi on Saturday, the club signed another minor league deal Sunday, inking right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, pending a physical. The non-guaranteed contract also includes an invitation to spring training in Goodyear, Arizona.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Scott Boras client can make up to $4-million if he makes the club.
With plenty of questions surrounding the starting pitching staff, the team has been looking to add value depth to the mix. Matsuzaka will compete for one of the spots following righties Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers.
The 32-year old hurler is very familiar with new Indians skipper Terry Francona. He played under Francona during his career in Boston with the Red Sox. During his six-year career, Matsuzaka won 50 games in Beantown, but was never able to recapture his 2007 and 2008 success, when he won 15 and 18 games, respectively.
Since then, he has a combined earned run average of 5.53 in 56 appearances, 55 starts, including undergoing Tommy John surgery. Most recently, he logged only 11 starts in 2012, posting a disastrous 8.28 ERA.
Much like Giambi, Matsuzaka presents a no-risk, high-reward situation for the Tribe. While I would still consider him a long-shot to make the club out of spring training - and certainly consider myself a skeptic that he can have a large impact - the minor league deal allows the team to get an exclusive up-close look at the hurler.
It also brings more competition to the race for the fourth and fifth starter slots. While Francona has admitted he would like to see young pitchers like Trevor Bauer, Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber step up, no one will be given a starting spot. They will earn it this spring.
Hopefully, that pushes the cream to the top, while presenting some options and depth in Goodyear.
For as much work the Tribe's front office has put into infusing the organization with talent, the team's success will largely hinge on a starting staff with a lot to prove.
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