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Transactions: Indians Sign Carl Pavano

Signed RHP Carl Pavano to a One Year, $1.5M Contract

The Indians are facing a difficult obstacle in 2009: replace three-fifths of last year's starting rotation, not only in performance but innings. Only three starting pitchers on the 40-man roster threw more than 100 major-league innings last year: Cliff Lee (223.2), Fausto Carmona (120.7) and Jeremy Sowers (121.0). So even though there is talented starting depth on the roster, endurance is going to be a problem. One way to get around that is to add more depth, which this signing was designed to do.

Rather than go after an innings-eating pitcher with less ability, the Indians decided to purchase a lottery ticket; in other words, pay a little for the remote possibility of a big payday. Pavano hasn't pitched a full season since his last year in Florida, and even before that has had problems staying on the mound. Since July of 2005, he's only thrown 45.7 innings. Hence the Indians wrote into the contract an extensive incentive structure (scroll down) based on starts and innings pitched. If he somehow makes 35 or more starts and pitches more than 235.0 innings, he'll have earned $5.3M in bonuses.  Even a more realistic season will net Pavano much more in bonuses than his base salary.

Even if we make that leap of faith and assume Pavano can be an everyday starter, what kind of performance will the Indians be getting? I don't think even the Indians know. Pavano might be extremely motivated, he might be relieved to have moved on from New York, and he might finally be healthy, but that doesn't change the fact that he's essentially been out of baseball for 3.5 seasons. The way the contract is written, there's not a lot the Indians can lose, but their odds of getting quality innings from Pavano are likewise remote.

Designated 1B Michael Aubrey for Assignment

The Indians still had an option year on Aubrey because of all his injuries, but his future with the team had long since been derailed. Michael actually had a relatively healthy 2008, and finally got some at-bats in the majors, but he only posted a .746 OPS for Buffalo, not good enough for a 26-year-old first baseman.