Indians offer contract to Mulder

Indians offer contract to Mulder

CLEVELAND -- The Indians entered the offseason with the luxury of having five established starters on board and under contract for '07.

But that isn't stopping the club from pursuing an intriguing name on the free-agent market.

The Tribe has a two-year offer on the table for left-hander Mark Mulder, who is coming off rotator cuff surgery that sidelined him in the second half of '06.

The deal would reportedly guarantee Mulder somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.75 million -- his '06 salary with the Cardinals -- for 2007, and performance incentives could push the value of the second year past the $10 million mark.

Mulder, 29, is also being hotly pursued by the Rangers and Cardinals. Indians general manager Mark Shapiro would not speculate where the Indians stand in the race for Mulder, a 21-game winner with the A's in 2001.

"I'm waiting for some more guidance from [Mulder's agent] Gregg [Clifton] on that," Shapiro said on Thursday.

Shapiro is equally mum on just what the Indians would do with a surplus of starters in the short term. Clifton has been telling teams that Mulder should be able to make 20-25 starts this season. If that is, indeed, the case, the Indians would have to decide what to do with a rotation that already includes three left-handers -- C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers. Right-handers Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd could both be eligible for free agency after '07.

"I'm going to refrain from that conversation," Shapiro said. "I don't feel it's constructive. All it does is alert our competition to what our intentions are, which handicaps us in the process."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Thursday that the Rangers also made a two-year offer to Mulder and that the Cardinals, who offered a one-year deal with an option for '08, are getting a chance to counteract.

For now, the Indians are playing the waiting game.

"Obviously, it's been well-documented that we have interest in him and have made an offer and have active conversations and negotiations," Shapiro said. "Everything else at this point in time is in his court and Gregg's court. We haven't done all the medical due diligence. That would be the next step for us, if we proceed."

Mulder has a career record of 103-57 with a 4.11 ERA over seven seasons. He's coming off a disappointing '06 in which the injury limited him to 17 starts. He went 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.