Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cleveland Indians agree pending physical

Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Yankees. (Oct. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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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 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 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 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.

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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 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 AL 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 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, he 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 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.

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