The chance to start again convinced Brett Myers to sign with the Cleveland Indians.
The right-hander, who spent the majority of his career as a starter before pitching in relief last season for Houston and the Chicago White Sox, signed a one-year, $7 million contract on Friday with the Indians.
Cleveland has penciled Myers into their starting rotation behind Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Myers passed a physical before finalizing his deal, which includes an $8 million club option for 2014.
“He’ll go into our rotation and we think he has a chance to log some innings for us,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “He’s a good strike thrower that can complement our staff well.”
Myers appeared in 70 games — all in relief — for Houston and the Chicago White Sox last season. The 32-year-old has a career 97-93 record with 40 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 377 games — 249 starts. He has reached double digits in wins six times and pitched at least 200 innings three times, most recently in 2011 when he won 14 games.
Antonetti said the plan is for Myers to start from the outset, but he can provide some protection for Cleveland’s bullpen. Antonetti said some provisions were added to Myers’ contract if he winds up as a reliever. The club is confident he can make the switch back to starting with ease.
Masterson, Jimenez and Myers are the only pitchers guaranteed to be in the rotation at this point, but Antonetti said Zach McAllister has a “leg up going into spring training” to win another spot. McAllister went 6-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 22 starts for the Indians last season after the 25-year-old was called up from Triple-A Columbus.
Cleveland’s fifth spot will likely go to Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber or David Huff.
Last season, Myers relieved for both the Astros and White Sox, who acquired him in a trade on July 21. The 32-year-old pitched in 70 games last season, going a combined 3-8 with a 3.31 ERA.
Myers spent eight seasons with Philadelphia before signing as a free agent with Houston in 2010. Antonetti said the Indians did a thorough background check on Myers, who was arrested and charged in 2006 for assaulting his wife. The Indians are satisfied Myers learned from the incident.
Antonetti has spent this winter overhauling the Indians following a 68-94 season. Myers’ signing comes one day after the Indians introduced outfielder Nick Swisher, who signed a four-year, $56 million deal with Cleveland.
Besides Swisher and Myers, the Indians signed first baseman Mark Reynolds and acquired pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and outfielder Drew Stubbs in a nine-player trade with Arizona and Cincinnati.