CLEVELAND — After striking out in free agency, the Cleveland Guardians locked up one of their own, agreeing to terms with closer Emmanuel Clase on a five-year, $20 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
Clase’s deal is pending him passing a physical, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the agreement.
The deal includes club options for 2027 and 2028 worth $10 million each. It could be a few days before the deal is completed, the person said.
Clase missed all of 2020 after being suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. However, he thrived in his first year as Cleveland’s closer, recording 24 saves with a 1.29 ERA in 71 appearances as a rookie in 2021. Clase had 74 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings.
The 24-year-old began last season sharing the closer’s job with James Karinchak before becoming one of the AL’s rising young pitching stars. Clase gives manager Terry Francona a dependable weapon at the back end of a bullpen that will need to have a big year to keep Cleveland competitive.
The Guardians have been criticized for their lack of spending during the offseason. They pursued some free agents but came up short and further alienated fans wanting them to do more after an 80-82 season.
The team has had talks this spring with All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez about a possible long-term contract. He’s under team control through the 2023 season and is Cleveland’s highest paid player, making $12 million this season.
The Guardians acquired Clase from Texas in 2019 as part of a trade that sent former AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Rangers.
NOTES: OF/1B Josh Naylor will start the season on the 10-day injured list as he continues his comeback after breaking his leg last season. Naylor only recently began playing in major league exhibitions. Also, rookie outfielder Steven Kwan, catcher Bryan Lavastida and left-handed reliever Konnor Pilkington were told they’re on the opening day roster. Kwan has had an impressive camp and could start.