Cleveland Indians Retain Daisuke Matsuzaka, Matt Capps After All

By Thom Tsang
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It was only a day or so ago that two of the biggest names in the Cleveland Indians‘ attempt at diamond-digging this past off-season looked like they may have to find employment elsewhere.

… and they did, technically, even though that process was rather short-lived and that they both re-signed with the Indians.

As expected when they were given their releases, both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps were signed by the team to full minor league deals on Tuesday after being released earlier. The reason for the seemingly unnecessary move? So the Indians can save a bit of dough.

By releasing both players before Tuesday, Cleveland avoiding having to pay each player a $100,000 retention bonus and maintain status quo as far as their minor league statuses are concerned. In a way, Matsuzaka and Capps re-signing are long-winded ways of accepting a minor league assignments, as both could have likely opted out of their contract (or just not re-signed) if they had other opportunities.

Matsuzaka looked to have a pretty good shot at a MLB job out of Spring Training to start, as he’d been in competition with the likes of Scott Kazmir and Carlos Carrasco for a spot in the rotation. However, a calf injury slowed him from making progress in the race, despite the righty throwing eight innings of decent two-run ball on 10 hits, a walk and three strikeouts.

To be fair, he still has a pretty decent chance of ending up on the Indians’ rotation sometime sooner rather than later. Yes, Kazmir won the No. 5 job with a solid spring, but he’s hardly what you could call a sure thing. Ditto Ubaldo Jimenez (who is coming off a brutal 2012) and newcomer Brett Myers (who did not start in 2012, and has given up 20 runs over 16 innings this Spring).

Even Justin Masterson is searching for a rebound in 2013 himself. In short, this is a group that’s going to be in flux all season, and the Indians likely won’t hesitate to make changes if necessary.

The situation is slight hazier for Capps, who has more work cut out for him to be a major part of the Cleveland bullpen, and it may take a Chris Perez trade for him to get a shot.

That said, the Indians are not exactly holding him hostage in the minors. “”If a big league club wants me,” as Capps told Paul Hoynes of “the Indians said they won’t stand in my way.”

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