LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Indians love Joe Borowski -- for one year.
After the Philadelphia Phillies backed away from a two-year
contract because of concerns over his pitching shoulder, Cleveland finalized a $4.25 million, one-year deal Wednesday with the right-handed reliever.
"This is a market that's full of risks," Indians general
manager Mark Shapiro said. "With some guys a risk has been in the
contract, either through salary or years. Sometimes a risk is
medical. But I think this is an offseason where you pick where the risk is."
Cleveland also completed an $11.5 million, three-year agreement
with free-agent outfielder David Dellucci, who passed his physical
in Cleveland on Tuesday. And reliever Eric Gagne, who missed much
of last season because of injuries, might be attracting the Indians' attention.
"Obviously, we have a higher threshold for risk on a shorter
deal and with lower dollars," Shapiro said. "There's a direct correlation there."
Borowski had 36 saves in 43 chances last season for the Florida
Marlins. After he reached a preliminary agreement with the
Phillies, Philadelphia backed off that deal when it didn't like the
results of medical tests performed on his right shoulder.
"I'm as healthy as can be," Borowski said. "As far as
physically able, there's no problems."
When the Phillies then tried to sign Borowski to a one-year
contract, the 35-year-old turned his attention to the Indians.
Cleveland's doctors examined him Tuesday.
"What Joe brings to the table and what that can mean to this
team was worth the risk," Shapiro said. "Right now he is a
closing alternative for us for sure, and certainly will pitch
meaningful innings late in the game."
Cleveland, which traded Bob Wickman before the July 31 deadline
last season, had a major league-low 23 saves in 2006. Borowski will
be the favorite going into training camp to be Cleveland's next
closer. Shapiro has also had talks with agents for Keith Foulke and
Last week, the Indians signed veterans Roberto Hernandez and
Aaron Fultz, who are expected to fill set-up roles.
Borowski has also pitched for Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, the
New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. He is 17-26 with a 3.87 ERA and
80 career saves. Since 2003, he is 78-for-95 in save opportunities.
He gets $4 million next year, and the Indians have a $4 million
option for 2008 with a $250,000 buyout. Borowski can earn $1.5
million in performance bonuses bases on games finished: $200,000
each for 40, 45 and 50, $400,000 for 55 and $500,000 for 60.
In Philadelphia, he would have been a setup man.
"I think it worked out for the best," he said.
The 33-year-old Dellucci, who chose Cleveland over Cincinnati,
is expected to platoon in left field. A left-handed hitter, he
batted .292 with 13 homers and 39 RBIs in 132 games for
Philadelphia, which acquired him before opening day from Texas.
"I look to be expecting all righties and I look to get some
considerable at-bats against left-handed pitching," he said. "I
had the chance with the Rangers for two years to get consistent
play, especially in 2005, which is my best year as far as power
numbers and on-base percentage. From playing on a consistent basis,
I think it's only going to get better. A player obviously is more
comfortable when he knows he's going to be in the lineup."