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Indians and Danny Salazar settle for $4.5 million, avoiding arbitration

The Tribe will hope Salazar can avoid a trip to the DL for the first time since 2015

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians and pitcher Danny Salazar have agreed to a salary of $4.5 million for next season, avoiding arbitration. The deal currently makes him the fourth-highest paid pitcher on the Indians roster for next season, behind Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Brad Hand.

This represents a $4.5 million gamble for the Indians, considering Salazar spent all of last season on the DL and missed huge chunks of the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Salazar was a Cy Young candidate in the first half of 2016 before being sidelined with right elbow inflammation. He was able to return for the postseason, but was relegated to mop-up relief out of the bullpen. Salazar made it through the first two months of 2017 before making two trips to the DL, one for right shoulder soreness and the other for right elbow inflammation. He started the 2018 season on the DL with right shoulder rotation cuff tendinitis before requiring arthroscopic shoulder surgery in July that cost him the rest of his season.

The Indians are clearly hedging their bets on a return to form for Salazar, and he could end up as either as a starting pitcher or in the bullpen for the Tribe when all is said and done. If the front office is serious about trading Kluber, Carrasco, or Trevor Bauer this offseason, that would open up a rotation spot for Salazar, when healthy. Or he could be used to shore up a bullpen that will be without the services of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Oliver Perez.