Cleveland targets Borowski as closer

Cleveland targets Borowski as closer

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Joe Borowski's failed physical with the Phillies last week might have put him in a position to become the Indians' closer.

The Indians and Borowski are close to finalizing a one-year contract that is contingent upon the results of a physical the free-agent reliever will take in Cleveland on Tuesday, according to a baseball source.

Borowski and the Phillies reportedly had a two-year deal in place last week, until Philadelphia received an unfavorable medical report on the 35-year-old's right shoulder.

The Tribe is in need of some back-end relief support. Over the weekend, the club signed veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez and left-hander Aaron Fultz to one-year contracts, but neither player is expected to take over the closer's reins.

Ever since the July 20 trade that sent Bob Wickman to the Braves, the Indians have been a team without a true closer. They tried rookie Fausto Carmona in that role, with poor results, then used a by-committee system headed by rookie Tom Mastny.

The free-agent market hasn't exactly been supportive of the Tribe's efforts to land an experienced late-inning arm. The club pursued at least three veteran relievers -- right-hander Danys Baez and left-handers Jamie Walker and Justin Speier -- who signed multiyear deals elsewhere, and the prices for even adequate talent have been high.

Borowski is an injury risk, but he could also turn out to be a bargain.

In 2006, Borowski saved 36 of 43 opportunities for the Marlins, compiling a 3.75 ERA in 72 appearances. He made a base salary of just $327,000, but incentives pushed the contract's value up to about $1.05 million.

Borowski missed most of 2004 with a partial tear in his right rotator cuff and about two months of '05 with a fractured right forearm.

In his career, which began in 1995 with the Orioles and has included stints with the Braves, Yankees, Cubs and Devil Rays, Borowski has gone 17-26 with a 3.87 ERA, saving 80 games in 101 chances (79.2 percent). His best year might have been 2003, when he took over as the Cubs' closer and saved 33 games in 37 chances, helping to propel Chicago to the NLCS.

The Marlins did not offer Borowski arbitration before Friday's deadline, even though they have interest in retaining him. That's good news for the Indians, who wouldn't lose any draft picks if they sign him. The Tribe will already lose its second- and third-round picks in the 2007 draft for the signings of Type A free agents David Dellucci and Roberto Hernandez, both of whom were offered arbitration by their former clubs.

Dellucci will also be in Cleveland for his physical on Tuesday. Assuming it goes well, the club will announce his three-year, $11.5 million deal on Wednesday. A deal with Borowski could be announced at the same time.

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