Indians Add Pitcher Ogando on Minor League Deal

On day three of the annual Winter Meetings, the Cleveland Indians have added another pitcher to the depth chart.

Jesse Sanchez of reported on Tuesday via Twitter that the Indians had come to terms on a minor league agreement with former big league reliever Alexi Ogando.

The Indians had not formally announced the move at the time of the story. Ben Nicholson-Smith of reported that, per sources, the deal includes a $1 million base salary at the MLB level with up to $650,000 in incentives and a May 1 opt-out date. Ogando is planning to be stretched out for use as a starter in camp, where he will be in attendance as a non-roster invitee.

Ogando, 34, spent last season pitching in Korea.

Years ago, Ogando was an All-Star starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Oakland Athletics in 2002 as an outfielder and was a minor league Rule 5 pick by the Rangers in 2005. Texas stashed him away with their Dominican Republic Summer League club while converting him to pitching. At the time, Ogando had been barred from entering the United States through 2009 for participating in a marriage-fraud scheme (involving numerous other foreign-born minor league players) that was being used to bring women into the country via the players’ work visas.

Stateside in 2010, he pitched in a combined 18 games at Double-A and Triple-A before he debuted with the Rangers as a reliever and made a strong impression, going 4-1 in 44 games with a 1.30 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in the regular season before appearing in five games in the playoffs, allowing just one run with eight strikeouts in six innings of work.

Texas moved him into the rotation for the 2011 season and he rewarded their decision with a 13-8 campaign in 31 games (29 starts) with a complete game shutout and a trip to that season’s Midsummer Classic.

He was back in the bullpen in 2012, saving three games while going 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 58 outings, but he was bounced back into the rotation again in 2013, appearing in 23 games (18 starts) with a 7-4 record, a 3.11 ERA, and a 1.23 WHIP. His ERA ballooned in 2014 to 6.84 as control became a problem. His walk rate jumped nearly two batters per nine innings compared to the previous season and his hit rate jumped four and a half per nine innings. He was non-tendered after the season and joined the Boston Red Sox for the 2015 season. He made a career-high 64 appearances that season, all in relief, while posting a 3-1 record with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He followed that up by a partial season in Atlanta with the Braves, where he was 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA, but he had an elevated 1.72 WHIP in his 36 appearances.

He was released by the Braves in July of 2016 and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, appearing in six games over a two week span for their Triple-A Reno affiliate before his release.

Ogando spent last year working as a starter for Hanwha of the Korean Baseball Organization, where he went 10-5 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP over 19 games in what is largely considered a hitter’s league. He has followed playing time overseas with a return to the Dominican Winter League for the second straight offseason, but has appeared in just one game for Toros del Este (on November 21).

Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

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