CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has called Dan Otero his wild card in the bullpen. No matter the situation, inning or score, the manager has trusted the veteran right-hander to come in and do the job. Otero has been called upon for one batter and for parts of three
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has called Dan Otero his wild card in the bullpen. No matter the situation, inning or score, the manager has trusted the veteran right-hander to come in and do the job. Otero has been called upon for one batter and for parts of three innings.
Now, Francona will get to keep his wild card in the deck for at least two more seasons. On Tuesday, the Indians announced that they signed Otero to a two-year, $2.5 million contract extension that includes a team option for the 2020 season. The deal covers the pitcher's final two years of arbitration and potentially his first year of free-agent eligibility.
"Dan's made huge contributions in his time with us, filling a very versatile role in our bullpen," Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "Tito [Francona] has called on him as early as the first inning in some instances and also has used him in some late-game opportunities. So, it's a guy that we've come to value his consistency and his contributions, really, throughout our bullpen in a variety of different roles. We're really happy that we were able to work towards this."
The signing comes after the Indians avoided arbitration with Otero on Friday with a one-year deal for the 2018 campaign. With the extension now included, Otero is scheduled to earn $1.1 million in 2018 and $1.3 million in '19, with a $1.5 million option (or $100,000 buyout) for '20. The deal also includes $100,000 available in performance bonuses for games finished in each of the three years.
The pact with Otero, who will turn 33 on Feb. 19, locks in an important arm for the Indians, who are balancing having some relievers reach free agency this year and next. Setup men Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith hit the open market this offseason, while closer Cody Allen, relief ace Andrew Miller and righty Zach McAllister will be eligible for free agency next offseason.
"That was one of the considerations for us," Antonetti said. "We try to look forward. Not only at our 2018 team, but the teams beyond that. A hallmark of our team-building efforts is that we're not only focused on one year. And in this case, specifically, we do have some guys that are potentially eligible for free agency at the end of the 2018 season. So, to have some certainty with a guy like Dan that will be here beyond that is important for us."
The Indians acquired Otero from the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations prior to the 2016 season, and he quickly found a home in the Tribe's relief corps. Over his two years with Cleveland, Otero has turned in a 2.14 ERA in 130 2/3 innings with a 62.9 percent ground-ball rate (ninth best among MLB relievers in that time period). Last season, Otero turned in a 2.85 ERA with 38 strikeouts against nine walks in 60 innings (52 games).
As things stand, the Indians' bullpen projects to include Miller, Allen, Otero, McAllister and Tyler Olson, with a handful of arms in the mix for the remaining jobs. It is possible that Otero will move into more of a setup role for Miller and Allen, given that Shaw might not be returning to the Tribe for the upcoming season.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.