(AP)—Fausto Carmona, a surprising 19-game winner last season, agreed Thursday to a $15 million, four-year contract with the Indians, a deal that would be worth at least $43 million if Cleveland exercises three club options.
Carmona’s signing gives the Indians protection in case they are unable to keep C.C. Sabathia, the defending AL’s Cy Young Award winner, who is eligible for free agency following this season.
Sabathia rejected a preliminary offer from the Indians, and during spring training he suspended negotiations with the Indians until after the season. There’s no guarantee he’ll be back, and if he’s not, Carmona will ascend into the No. 1 role.
Interestingly, the Indians announced Carmona’s deal at a news conference inside Progressive Field, a gathering they promoted as “exciting news about a member of the Indians pitching staff (NOT C.C. Sabathia).”
“This contract secures one of the Cleveland Indians’ best talents and toughest competitors for the long term,” general manager Mark Shapiro said. “It is a great reward for Fausto’s hard work and performance, and continues to demonstrate ownership’s commitment to sustaining a championship team by retaining our most talented players.”
The 24-year-old Carmona went 19-7 with a 3.06 ERA and emerged as one of the AL’s top starters in 2007, one season after he went 1-10. He had agreed last month to a one-year contract paying $457,800 in the majors and $228,900 in the minors.
AP - Apr 10, 10:20 am EDT
Carmona gets a $750,000 signing bonus and guaranteed salaries of $500,000 this year, $2.75 million in 2009, $4.9 million in 2010 and $6.1 million in 2011.
The Indians have options for $7 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013 and $14 million in 2014. The price of the first option could escalate by $1 million and the price on the other two by $2 million each, meaning Carmona could earn up to $48 million.
Carmona joins a core group of young players—along with Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez—who have signed long-term deals with the Indians.
The right-hander, whose signature sinker is as good as any in the majors, pitched 215 innings last season. He and Sabathia were the first Cleveland teammates to win at least 19 games since Bob Lemon, Herb Score and Early Wynn did it in 1956.
Carmona, who finished second in the AL in ERA, began the ‘07 season with a loss to Chicago, extending his losing streak to 11 straight games. He finally snapped it by beating Minnesota’s Johan Santana, but was optioned to the minor leagues when Cliff Lee came off the disabled list.
But before he reported to Triple-A Buffalo, Carmona was back when right-hander Jake Westbrook went down with an injury. He pitched his first complete game shutout in May, again beating Santana, a two-time Cy Young winner.
Carmona eventually won seven straight decisions, and then went 9-4 with a major league best 2.26 ERA in the second half.
The Dominican Republic native made a memorable debut in the postseason. Matched up with Andy Pettitte, he allowed the New York Yankees just three hits and no earned runs in nine innings, pitching the final two as tiny insects swarmed the infield at then-Jacobs Field.
Carmona’s amazing ride finally ended in the ALCS, when he was roughed up in two starts by the Boston Red Sox, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the series.