CLEVELAND -- The Indians spoke the magic word when it came to negotiations with free-agent outfielder David Dellucci. That word was "everyday." With a promise of taking over the everyday duties in left field, Dellucci agreed to a three-year, $11.5 million contract with the Indians. The deal is contingent upon Dellucci passing a physical in Cleveland on Thursday and will likely be announced at that time, according to Dellucci's agent, Joe Longo.
"For David, the big thing is the role," Longo said. "Cleveland is definitely the one organization where they embraced him with open arms and said, 'You are going to have a role and help us win.'" A team source would only confirm that the Indians and Dellucci have made progress on a deal. It is general manager Mark Shapiro's policy not to discuss such matters until they are completed. The 33-year-old Dellucci, a left-handed batter, hit .292 with 13 homers and 39 RBIs in 132 games as a part-timer for the Phillies last season. He spent the previous two years with the Rangers, and his 10-year career has also included stints with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Orioles. For the Indians, left field had been occupied primarily by Jason Michaels in 2006. The Indians acquired him from the Phillies in January to fill the spot vacated by Coco Crisp, who was traded to the Red Sox. Michaels went on to bat .267 with nine homers and 55 RBIs in 123 games. The Tribe, disappointed with Michaels' .252 average against right-handers and .326 on-base percentage from the No. 2 spot of the lineup, wasn't expected to give that everyday job to him again in '07. By the end of '06, he was sharing time with Shin-Soo Choo, acquired in a July trade with the Mariners. Michaels is arbitration-eligible, so the club must offer him a contract by Dec. 12. If he remains with the team, he would likely get some of the starts in left against left-handed pitching. The Indians might use a platoon of Michaels and Choo in right, and Casey Blake should see significant time at the corner infield spots. Dellucci, who has a career average of .263 with an on-base percentage of .369, has never hit lefties particularly well in his career. In 2006, he had limited exposure to them, batting .200 (4-for-20). Nonetheless, the Indians, according to Longo, have promised Dellucci regular at-bats against left-handers. "Obviously in his past, they generally didn't have him hit against a lot of lefties," Longo said. "But [manager] Eric [Wedge] told him they'd give him an opportunity to hit lefties. He did say that if the matchup is better, Jason Michaels would get some starts against lefties."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.