The Cleveland Indians released Daisuke Matsuzaka on Sunday night in order to avoid paying his $100,000 retention bonus which is due on Tuesday of this week. Over the past week, following an injury that set back his progression in spring training Matsuzaka had accepted an assignment by the Indians to triple-a. The agreement appeared to serve both sides amicably as Matsuzaka was clearly not in the shape necessary to return to a big-league rotation and the Indians are gathering as much rotation depth as possible in triple-a for when the inevitable injury or Ubaldo Jimenez collapse occurs.
The release appears to have been solely to avoid the roster bonus while the Indians renegotiate Matsuzaka’s contract, obviously various incentives will have to be altered in order for it to reflect the current position each party is in. In all likely hood, the new renegotiated deal will probably just shift back the roster date. For instance adding a $100,000 dollar roster bonus for him if he is with the big league club on May 1st.
The other piece which will be adapted will be an opt-out date which could have release options for both parties. I would expect the opt-out date to be June 1. Thus if Matsuzaka is not added to the roster by June 1 he would have the right to nullify his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. This sort of deal absolutely makes sense as he could be the first or second option called upon if a starter like Jimenez falters or one of the other rotation staples suffers an injury. Furthermore on the Indians side it would allow them to keep both Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer in triple-a if the big league club needs a spot-start. Therefore they can avoid wasting an option on either of these two up and coming starters.
If the Indians can work out a deal which fulfills the aforementioned details then this release was just a necessary bump in the road to maintaining rotation depth.
Follow Mike Hattery @MichaelHattery