AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — Josh Tomlin has shown toughness and tenacity during his time with the Indians. On Tuesday, he was rewarded for it.
Tomlin and Cleveland agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year contract, a deal that can earn the right-hander $11.75 million over three seasons.
The 31-year-old agreed Jan. 15 to a $2.25 million, one-year deal that avoided salary arbitration. The new agreement adds a $2.5 million salary for 2017 and gives the Indians a $3 million club option for 2018 with a $750,000 buyout.
Tomlin can make another $2 million annually in performance bonuses based innings and starts in 2017 and, if the option is exercised, in 2018.
Tomlin might have been able to secure a larger deal as a free agent after the ‘16 season, but he feels loyalty to the Indians, who have stuck with him through some bumpy times.
“I wasn’t really looking towards the future and saying, ‘OK, this guy is getting this much money and I could potentially have that kind of money,’” he said. “That was really never in my head. It was the Cleveland Indians want to give me a shot and I’m all about it.”
Tomlin returned from shoulder surgery last year to go 7-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts. He was one of the AL’s best pitchers in September, when the Indians were still in the thick of a playoff race.
“I was able to get back and pitch the way everybody else was pitching,” he said from Texas during a telephone conference call. “I wanted to carry my own weight.”
He did more than that. After Aug. 15, Tomlin ranked first in the league in opponent’s on-base percentage and strikeout-to-walk ratio, and was second in batting average against and third in innings.
Tomlin had shoulder surgery last March and began the season on the disabled list. He was activated in July, made one minor league start at Triple-A Columbus and then joined the Indians, solidifying the backend of one of baseball’s strongest rotations. He went 3-1 in five starts in September, pitching two complete games.
Cleveland has terrific pitching depth. Tomlin and new general manager Mike Chernoff said the plan is for the right-hander to have a spot in the rotation alongside Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer. Cody Anderson, who went 7-3 as a rookie last season, will also compete for a starting job.
Tomlin is 36-30 with a 4.65 ERA since making his first start for Cleveland in 2010. The Indians drafted Tomlin in the 19th round in 2006.
He had Tommy John surgery in 2013 after two injury-slowed seasons.
“He’s a great success story for a lot of reasons,” Chernoff said. “His competiveness, his toughness, the type of teammate that he is have really made a huge impact on our major league team on the field and in the clubhouse. Even with some of the injures he has faced over the past couple of years, he has continued to make that impact. His contract is a really rewarding one for him and the work he has put in, but also a great organizational story.”
Tomlin’s performance bonuses call for $250,000 each for 20 and 25 starts, and 160 and 180 innings, and $500,000 apiece for 30 starts and 200 innings.