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Indians Sign Jason Johnson

Signed RHP Jason Johnson to a one-year, $3.5M contract with a mutual option for 2007

Here's how the mutual option works:

-If the Indians decline the option, Johnson gets a $500K buyout

-If Indians exercise the option but Johnson declines it, he'd still get the $500K unless he pitched under 205 innings. In other words, it's unlikely he'll get the buyout if he declines the option

-The mutual option, if exercised by both the Indians and Johnson, is worth $3.5M

-Johnson can earn performance bonuses of $2M in 2006 and 2007. The most he can make over the course of the contract is $11M

Johnson's proven to be a durable pitcher, and innings-eaters do have some value. He'll be pitching in front of a better defense in 2006, and for a pitcher who doesn't strike out that many, that will help. He's not that expensive, and the Indians are only on the hook for one year.

Now can Johnson be anything more than an innings-eater? Probably not. Johnson only struck out 3.99 batters per 9 innings last season. He's this year's version of Scott Elarton, only Johnson is more of a ground-ball pitcher opposed to Elarton's fly-ball tendencies. If you trust that the Indians won't let him block Fausto Carmona or Jeremy Sowers if they prove they're ready, then there isn't that much to worry about.