Myers, 32, passed a physical Thursday at Progressive Field and officially agreed to a one-year, $7 million contract Friday with Cleveland that includes an $8 million option for 2014.
After spending the entire 2012 season pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Myers will return to a starting role he has held for the majority of his 11-year big league career. Alongside him will be Cleveland third base coach Brad Mills, Myers’ manager in Houston the past three years, and bullpen coach Kevin Cash and backup catcher Lou Marson — both of whom are former teammates of Myers.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back into the rotation,” said Myers, who went 3-8 with a 3.31 ERA in 70 combined appearances for the Astros and White Sox last year. “It’s a comfortable situation, because I know people there. I think that’s one of the main reasons I decided to play for the Indians.”
Myers, a first-round pick of the Phillies in 1999, has changed roles before. After serving as closer for Philadelphia in 2007, he struggled upon his return to the rotation the following year, but then after an injury-plagued 2009, Myers posted his best season as a starter in 2010, going 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA in 33 starts.
“I struggled in (2008) but I think I learned a lot,” Myers said. “(The transition to starter) shouldn’t (affect me). I’ve done it before.”
Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti is counting on it, already naming Myers one of his starters, along with Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez.
“He’s a big, strong, physical guy who’s made the transition in the past, and we think he’ll be able to do it again,” Antonetti said. “He’s demonstrated that he’s been able to take the ball and go deep into ballgames. We think he’s going to be a good addition to fortify our rotation.”
In his seven full seasons as a starter, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Myers has been durable, making at least 30 starts and posting double-digit wins in each of them. In that role, he is a lifetime 89-79 with a 4.27 ERA in 249 games.
“I’d rather they just give me the ball, and let’s play ball,” Myers said of his preference of starting or relieving. “It doesn’t matter to me. I just like playing the game.”
Antonetti said the Indians researched Myers’ past, which includes an incidence of domestic violence in 2006. While pitching for the Phillies, Myers was arrested and charged with assaulting his wife outside of Fenway Park in Boston.
“It’s unfortunate and Brett has been accountable,” Antonetti said. “It’s been seven years.”
The Indians’ busy offseason on the free-agent market is expected to come to an end. They’ve spent $56 million over four years for outfielder Nick Swisher and agreed on one-year contracts with power-hitting first baseman Mark Reynolds ($6 million) and Myers as their most substantial acquisitions.
“We’ve used the vast majority of our financial resources at this point,” said Antonetti, who also netted prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer, outfielder Drew Strubbs and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw in a three-team trade this winter. “In terms of significant moves, I think we’ve done that.”
To make room for Myers on the 40-man roster, the Indians designated infielder/outfielder Russ Canzler for assignment for the second time in less than two weeks. He was claimed off waivers by the Yankees.
After claiming him off waivers from Toronto on Wednesday, Canzler was expected to be a strong candidate for Cleveland’s designated hitter spot.
Antonetti would not rule out bringing back Travis Hafner, but still sounds as though the club will handle the DH duties internally.