Harang signing a matter of depth, not time with Tito
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Aaron Harang and Indians manager Terry Francona go way back. When the new Cleveland pitcher was coming up with Oakland more than a decade ago, Francona served as the bench coach for the A's.
Having a strong history with Francona can mean good things for making a roster, but the manager made it clear Sunday that adding Harang to the mix changes little. Francona said he and general manager Chris Antonetti simply felt signing the veteran was good for the Tribe's rotation depth.
"There's nothing to be read into his signing," Francona said, "besides the fact that Chris and I have gone back and forth all winter on the right amount of pitching. Nothing has changed from what we've said about Carlos [Carrasco] or Josh [Tomlin]. We're just trying to have depth. We were very honest with Aaron. He's going to get a chance to show what he can do."
Harang signed Saturday as a non-roster invitee on a Minor League contract and joins Carrasco, Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and Shaun Marcum as the main candidates for the lone vacancy in the starting rotation. Carrasco, who is out of options, is considered the favorite for the job, though he and Tomlin could also be options for the Tribe's bullpen.
The 35-year-old Harang offers 12 years of big league experience and durability (he averaged 179 innings per year over the past 10 seasons). Last season, the big righty went 5-12 with a 5.40 ERA in 26 games between the Mariners and Mets, but his strikeout and walk rates were the best they had been since 2009.
Harang cited an unfamiliarity with the American League, a handful of outings gone awry and a season filled with transactions as reasons behind his inconsistency. He spent Spring Training with the Dodgers before being traded twice in April (first by L.A. and then by Colorado) to land in Seattle. The Mariners released Harang at the end of August, and New York picked him up for September.
Harang said he was encouraged by his showing down the stretch with the Mets, who saw the right-hander post a 3.52 ERA with a .230 opponents' average in four starts in the final month.
"That was really big," said Harang, who added he is thrilled to join Cleveland. "Being a contending team was a big deal. And then I've known Francona since my rookie year. He was my bench coach. We've got a good relationship. We've talked back and forth and we talked a couple times this past week before things were going down, to kind of get a feel for the team and everything else.
"You've got to have extra guys in camp. I know I'm going to go out and do what I do, pitch how I can pitch and the rest will go from there."