CLEVELAND -- The Indians have given their ailing, youthful bullpen a much-needed injection of experience. Veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez and left-hander Aaron Fultz signed one-year deals with the Tribe on Saturday, as the club got a jump-start on the upcoming Winter Meetings. Both deals include a club option for 2008. Financial terms were not immediately available. "We're looking to change the dynamic in the bullpen," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "[Hernandez and Fultz will] provide some outsider experience."
Neither Hernandez nor Fultz is viewed as the club's savior in the closer's role. Hernandez will likely be in the setup mix, while Fultz will primarily be a left-handed specialist. The Indians will be the ninth big-league team for the 42-year-old Hernandez, who was drafted by the Angels in 1986 and began his career with the White Sox in 1991. He has since played for the Giants (1997), Devil Rays (1998-2000), Royals (2001-02), Braves (2003), Phillies (2004), Mets (2005), Pirates (2006) and the Mets again in the second half of this year, compiling a career record of 64-68 with a 3.32 ERA. With the Pirates and Mets in '06, Hernandez went 0-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 68 appearances during the regular season. Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, has two attributes no current member of the Tribe bullpen has -- experience in the playoffs and extensive experience closing games. "He's a guy that can handle both good and bad outings," Shapiro said. "He's been a consistent performer throughout his career. He has strong character, he's a professional. If things do get bumpy, he can handle it and provide veteran leadership to the guys on our staff." In 1993, Hernandez saved 21 games in the second half of the season, helping the White Sox clinch an American League Central title. He went on to make four scoreless appearances in the ALCS. After being traded to the Giants in 1997, Hernandez appeared in all three games of the National League Division Series against the Marlins. Two years later, as a member of the Devil Rays, he saved a career-high 43 games, despite Tampa Bay winning just 69 games. This past season, Hernandez's 3.11 ERA ranked 14th among NL relievers. He was acquired by the Mets for the stretch run to the playoffs and made three scoreless appearances in the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.