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Cleveland signs Bryan Shaw, two other relievers to minor-league deals

Two new faces and a familiar one will join Cleveland for spring training

MLB: Cleveland Indians-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Cleveland, Bryan Shaw.

The pitcher who currently ranks second in club history in relief appearances (378) signed a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to major league camp on Wednesday, setting the stage for a potential return to his former team. Should he make the big league club, Shaw will take the mound with Cleveland for the first time since Oct. 11, 2017.

Shaw’s career since departing Cleveland as a free agent has been rocky, to say the least. In two seasons with Colorado, he failed to finish with an ERA below 5.38. Then he lasted all of six games with the Seattle Mariners in 2020, posting an 18.00 ERA before getting the boot in mid-August. Cleveland must be curious whether the 33-year-old right-hander has anything left in the tank.

But keep your hand away from the stove, because the Cleveland front office has been busy bolstering their spring training roster. In addition to Shaw, the club also signed a minor-league contract with right-handed relievers Heath Hembree and D.J. Johnson.

Hembree was inked to a deal worth $1.25 million if he makes the majors. He split last season between Boston and Philadelphia after the Red Sox traded him to the Phillies midseason. Hembree had signed a one-year contract with Boston and was a free agent at the end of the season, which turned out to be the worst of his professional career. He finished with a 9.00 ERA and 8.82 FIP. Hembree has remarkably consistent K/BB numbers over the last five years, so perhaps Cleveland believes a command tweak could make him respectable again.

DJ Johnson — not to be confused with Cleveland outfielder Daniel Johnson — spent last season in Japan. He signed a one-year deal with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp after flaming out in Colorado, making 35 appearances for the Rockies in 2018 and 2019 and posting a 4.88 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Johnson was traded midseason to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and finished the year with a 3.81 ERA, appearing in 30 games.