<
>

Indians add right-hander Johnson to rotation

CLEVELAND -- Free-agent pitcher Jason Johnson agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract Monday with the Cleveland Indians, just hours before Kevin Millwood agreed to join the Texas Rangers.

Johnson went 8-13 with a 4.55 ERA in a career-high 210 innings last season for Detroit. The 32-year-old right-hander could earn as much as $11.5 million over two years in a deal that includes a mutual option for 2007.

Johnson and Paul Byrd, signed by the Indians this month, join C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook in one of the AL's deepest rotations. The newcomers will try to replace Scott Elarton, who signed with Kansas City, and Millwood, who got a $48 million, four-year deal from Texas, with an option for a fifth year that would put that contract at $60 million, according to ESPN's Peter Gammons.

Millwood signed a one-year package with Cleveland last winter
that linked his pay to his health. He was plagued by arm problems
while in Philadelphia but led the AL in ERA and helped mentor the
Indians' young staff.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has said since the season ended that it would be a long shot to keep Millwood.

With Millwood pricing himself out of Cleveland and Shapiro not wanting to complete the rotation with a young pitcher, the Indians turned to the 6-foot-6 Johnson, who has made at least 32 starts in four of the past five seasons. His contract includes a club option for 2007.

"We always look at dependability and reliability as being two main criteria," Shapiro said. "Beyond being a dependable person, Jason is among the elite in the amount of innings he's provided his teams in recent years."

Those teams, Baltimore and Detroit, have lost an average of 93 games the past five seasons, hurting Johnson's record. He is 52-86 during his nine-year career, which also included stints with losing teams in Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.

"It's going to be nice to be on a team like this that has a chance to win every time it takes the field," Johnson said of the Indians, who finished second in the AL Central in 2005.

The biggest obstacles for Johnson have been pitching with diabetes and remaining strong in the second half of the season. Johnson said working out too much after the All-Star break -- not his ailment -- caused him to wear down before he altered his exercise routine last season.

"It took me seven years to figure out what to do to stay strong the whole year," he said.

Johnson has a $3.5 million salary and the option price will be equal to his 2006 salary, including performance bonuses. He would get the $500,000 buyout if Cleveland declines the option. If the Indians exercise the option and he declines it, he still would get the buyout, unless he pitched fewer than 205 innings in 2006. He can earn $2 million in performance bonuses each year.

He would get $100,000 each for 29 and 31 starts, and $200,000 for 33 starts. He also would get $100,000 each for 175 and 185 innings, $150,000 each for 190 and 195 innings, $200,000 each for 200 and 205 innings, $300,000 for 210 innings and $400,000 for 215 innings.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.