Indians exercise option on Carlos Carrasco, sign him to 2-year extension

Carlos Carrasco's career has taken some dramatic turns, rerouted by elbow surgery, a therapeutic trip to the bullpen and several freakish injuries.

He persevered, blossoming into a special pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.

They're going to keep him around.

The Indians exercised their option on the right-hander for 2020 and signed him to a two-year extension Thursday that takes him through the 2022 season. The deal also includes a club option for the 2023 season.

According to multiple reports, the 2020 option is valued at $10.25 million, and Carrasco will be paid $12 million each in 2021 and 2022. The 2023 option is worth $14 million, with a $3 million buyout.

The Indians already had exercised their $9.75 million option for 2019 on Oct. 30.

The extension comes amid speculation the Indians might trade starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer as they retool this offseason.

"As we looked at the continuity of our rotation, we feel Carlos can continue to be a key cog in that," team president Chris Antonetti said. "When we had the opportunity to discuss with him the opportunity to extend his term here, it was something we thought would make a lot of sense for us. And we're really happy we were able to do that, because it does help in our planning efforts moving forward.

"We want to do what we can to improve our team not just in 2019 but in the years beyond that as well."

Carrasco, 31, was 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 192 innings pitched last season. He struck out a career-best 231 batters and tied for the major league lead with two complete games.

In 2017, he tied for the major league lead with 18 victories and finished fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting.

He has played his entire career with Cleveland after arriving in the 2009 blockbuster trade that sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia. He has a 79-62 record and 3.71 ERA in 207 games spanning nine major league seasons.

Carrasco missed all of 2012 following elbow reconstruction surgery. Two years later, the Indians had him pitch part of the season in the bullpen -- a move, Antonetti said, that was the turning point for the right-hander.

"It really changed his mindset," Antonetti said. "Carlos has always had a great complement of stuff. How he utilized that stuff and his aggressiveness in the strike zone kind of came and went at times. When he had the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen with the mindset of just trying to execute one pitch at a time, don't worry about trying to get through the lineup three or four times, just try to execute one pitch. Try to get that hitter out. And then go on to the next hitter and try to get that hitter out until Tito [Francona] comes to take the ball from you.

"That mentality helped flip the switch in Carlos' mind to keep him aggressive. He maintained that same approach as a starter. He's carried that forward for us now as a starter for the past four or five seasons."

The Indians feel Carrasco's commitment will allow him to keep pitching at a high level for several more seasons.

"He has evolved to the point where his routine, the way he conditions, the way he takes care of himself, are extraordinary," Antonetti said. "That's allowed him to be very durable, despite some freak injuries. He's pitched close to 200 innings each of the last two seasons and 180 innings a couple season before that. If it were not for some freak injuries, he likely would have eclipsed that mark each of the last four seasons."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.