Nixon agrees to $3 million, 1-year deal with Indians
January 19, 2007
CLEVELAND (AP) -- After agreeing to sign with Cleveland, Trot Nixon turned an important task over to his 5-year-old son.
"I let Chase pick the number," Nixon recalled. "He first picked 32, and I was like, why?"
"Because you're 32 years old," Chase said.
"Well, in two months, I'm going to be 33," his father replied.
With that, Nixon decided to wear No. 33 with the Indians, who agreed Friday to a $3 million, one-year contract with the oft-injured outfielder.
Nixon wore No. 7 with the Red Sox, the team he had spent his entire major league career with. No. 33 is just fine with him.
"That was my high school baseball number," he said.
Nixon, who will be joined in Cleveland by former Red Sox closer Keith Foulke, batted .268 with eight homers and 52 RBIs in 114 games last season.
He was sidelined from July 31 to Sept. 4 because of a strained right biceps, which he first hurt in June, and a staph infection. Nixon has gone on the DL in each of the last three seasons, including two stints in 2004, and has not had 500 at-bats since 2002.
"Obviously, I don't want go out and play hurt and eventually hurt the team," he said. "No. 1 it's going to effect the team. No. 2, it's just going to put me more in a hole, meaning having to go on the DL."
He remembered back to when he hurt his back in his first year of professional baseball.
"I don't think I regained my swing for like three years because I was scared," he said.
Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said the Indians wanted Nixon for his experience and the club did its medical due diligence on him.
"We felt comfortable that with the burden we're looking to put on him, we felt comfortable with his health," Shapiro said.
During 11 seasons with the Red Sox, Nixon hit .278 with 133 homers and 523 RBIs in 982 games. In 2001, he was selected the club's MVP after batting .306 with 28 homers and 86 RBIs in 134 games.
Nixon will likely bat second and platoon in right field with Casey Blake, who also will see time at first. Shin-Soo Choo had been set to platoon with Blake. Cleveland had talked with Nixon's agent last fall, then backed off after agreeing to an $11.5 million, three-year deal with David Dellucci.
Ryan Garko could wind up seeing more time at first. With Nixon in the lineup, Dellucci could be dropped to fifth or sixth against righties.
"It gives us a tremendous amount of depth that should protect us against injury and poor performance," Shapiro said.
Nixon can earn $2 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each for 200 plate appearances and every additional 50 plate appearances through 550.
To make room on their roster, the Indians designated right-hander Jeremy Guthrie for assignment. Guthrie, signed to a $4 million, four-year contract after Cleveland selected him with the 22nd pick of the 2002 amateur draft, pitched only 19 1-3 innings over nine games for the Indians last season and had a 6.98 ERA. He was out of options.
"It might have been a slight miscalculation on us on how advanced he was when we drafted him," Shapiro said. "He obviously had the stuff. He has the intelligence and the character. I think we underestimated maybe the development time necessary. ... I think we still feel like this guy has the ability and will be a solid major league pitcher at some point."