FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins watched a few pitchers walk into free agency last November and have filled in many of the holes with free agent signings and trading for Jake Odorizzi. One of those former Twins pitchers that won’t be coming back is Matt Belisle, who served as the fearless closer down the stretch as the Twins closed in on the postseason.
Belisle agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians this weekend, the team confirmed.
Belisle, 37, had a settle for a minor league deal in a winter in which relievers of all forms and fashions got MLB contracts, and in some cases for big money and multiple years. Belisle, though, probably hurt his own cause with poor performance in the first half last season.
On June 30 last season the veteran gave up 3 unearned runs, and at that point his numbers looked bad. In 33 games for the Twins he’d blown 3 saves and had a 6.53 ERA. He was well-respected within the clubhouse and among the coaching staff, but in early July he looked from the outside like a DFA candidate.
But from the beginning of July, he logged 30 good innings with a 1.50 ERA, a 32:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and then he took over the closer’s role in August after Brandon Kintzler was traded to the Nationals.
If Belisle makes the Indians out of spring camp, he’ll make a guaranteed $1.5 million, according to reports, with the possibility that climbs to $3.25 million if he hits performance incentives.
Matt Belisle’s deal with the Indians: $1.5 million with $1.75m in bonuses.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 25, 2018