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Indians, Carl Pavano agree to $1.5M, 1-year deal

Wednesday, January 7, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:19 AM

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians and free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano, a four-year bust with the New York Yankees because of injuries, agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract on Tuesday. Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said that Pavano, who turns 33 on Thursday, is guaranteed a spot in Cleveland's rotation as long as he's healthy following spring training. Pavano can make another $5.3 million in performance bonuses, based on starts from 18-35 and innings from 130-235.

In this Sept. 8, 2008 file photo, New York Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano throws AP – In this Sept. 8, 2008 file photo, New York Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano throws against the Los Angeles

Ever mindful of their budget, the Indians have been looking to add starting pitching depth this winter and had Pavano in a group of four or five pitchers with "upside" who also made financial sense. They are hoping Pavano has put his injury problems behind him and can step into a starting spot behind Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona.

Pavano spent most of the past four years on the disabled list with shoulder and elbow issues. He made only 26 starts and went 9-8 with a 5.00 ERA for the free-spending Yankees, who signed him to a deal worth $39.95 million before the 2005 season.

Cleveland is the opponent when New York opens the new Yankee Stadium on April 16. Could Pavano wind up starting against former-Indian CC Sabathia?

"I feel like we're getting him at the right time," Shapiro said. "He's very strong, in good shape now and extremely motivated. We thought he would benefit from a fresh start. It was a tough situation in New York and he was trying to justify the contract that he had."

Pavano became a popular target for frustrated New York fans who were disgusted that the money-is-no-object Yankees missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1993 despite a $223 million payroll. The Yankees in November declined their $13 million option for 2009 on Pavano, who got a $1.95 million buyout.

Shapiro said the Indians put Pavano through a thorough medical exam, similar to the one they gave free-agent closer Kerry Wood before signing him. The Indians were impressed with Pavano's strength and were encouraged by his final seven starts for the Yankees last season, when he went 4-2.

Pavano is 66-66 with a 4.23 ERA in 175 career starts for Montreal, Florida and New York. He had his best season in 2004, when he went 18-8 for the Marlins.

In his first season with New York, Pavano pitched only 100 innings after injuring his right shoulder. He missed the entire 2006 season and his work ethic and willingness to get back were questioned by some teammates. During his rehab, Pavano broke two ribs in a car accident but initially neglected to inform the Yankees.

He started just two games in 2007 before hurting his elbow and having elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Shapiro said Pavano will not be under any restrictions during spring training.

"He's in good shape and he's strong," the GM said.

To make room for Pavano, the Indians designated infielder Michael Aubrey for assignment.

In other news, Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner was cleared by Dr. James Andrews to start pre-hitting activities this week. Hafner is expected to begin hitting in mid-Januar

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