Today in Tribe History: December 16, 1999
Bob Toth | On 16, Dec 2017
The Indians come terms with free agent pitcher Chuck Finley on a three-year deal worth a reported $26 million.
The 37-year-old left-hander Finley, a former first round draft pick of the California Angels, was a highly sought after player for the Indians and others at the trade deadline in 1999, but the club was unable to pry him away from Anaheim at the time. Finley had the right to veto any potential trade because of service time with the Angels, but welcomed the idea of coming to Cleveland. The Indians balked at the Halos’ request of three MLB players in return for Finley’s services.
“There are two teams you can put money on to be playing at the end of the season, the Indians and the Yankees,” Finley was quoted on July 26, 1999, from Anaheim. “I wouldn’t want to go to a team in a wild card chase. It would have to be a team that’s going to be in the postseason. … It’s got to be a lock.”
Baltimore, Boston, and Seattle had also made offers to the free agent prior to him coming to Cleveland.
Finley would end a long run of right-handed dominance in the Indians’ starting rotation, which had been devoid of a regular southpaw since Greg Swindell in 1991. He had spent his first 14 seasons with the Angels, winning as many as 18 games in 1990 and 1991 while striking out 200 batters or more in each of the last two seasons.
He would become an All-Star for the fourth time in his career in 2000 with Cleveland, finishing the season 16-11 with a 4.17 ERA but, despite his claims that the Indians were a lock for the postseason, they finished second in the AL Central. He would make just 22 starts in 2001 (while the Indians won the Central) and the next season, after a disappointing 4-11 start to his year, he would be dealt to St. Louis.