Signed RHSP Jake Westbrook to a two-year, $7.5M contract, avoiding arbitration
This deal I can handle. Like with Blake’s deal, the Indians have a 2007 club option. I don’t know whether Westbrook will be eligible for free agency after the 2006 season, but judging by the terms of the contract, I’ll assume that he wouldn’t have his 6 years of service in until after 2007. Because free agency is based on service time, it’s difficult to know whether a guy like Westbrook, who bounced back and forth between Cleveland and the minors the past several season, will be a free agent in 2006 or 2007.
Westbrook, like Blake, is due for a regression next year. Unlike Blake, I think Westbrook will be worth his contract. Jake’s style of pitching means that he’s subject to more variability in his numbers than a strikeout pitcher, but his sinker is good enough to make him a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter if healthy. Given the market for starting pitching, Westbrook at $2.9M this season and $4.25M in 2006 is a pretty good value even if his ERA climbs back to the 4.00 range.
With Westbrook’s signing, the Indians have taken care of all their major offseason business. Shapiro has hinted that he’ll try to sign a couple younger players to long-term deals (Martinez and Hafner come to mind), but that usually happens in Spring Training.