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Indians Sign Tavarez to Three-Year Contract

January 12, 1996

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Reliever Julian Tavarez has agreed to a $2 million, three-year contract with the Cleveland Indians, with team options for 1999 and 2000.

Tavarez, who had a $128,000 salary in 1995, can make up to $7 million in performance bonuses during the first three years of the contract.

``I’m so excited and happy about this,″ Tavarez said at a Jacobs Field news conference Thursday. ``I never thought I’d get a contract like this so fast in my career.″

The 22-year-old right-hander had a 2.44 ERA last season in 57 relief appearances. He was 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 12 postseason appearances.

Tavarez was 10-2 last year as a set-up man for closer Jose Mesa. The 10 wins were the most ever by an Indians rookie reliever. He is scheduled to stay in the bullpen this season, but is expected to be in the starting rotation by 1997. Dennis Martinez, 40, could create the opening.

``We built the contract to protect Julian, depending on his role,″ Indians general manager John Hart said.

Tavarez said he enjoys relieving, but wants to become a starter eventually.

``Maybe it will be 1998, maybe it will be next year,″ Tavarez said.

The three-year contract differed from the club’s normal policy of limiting contracts with pitchers to two years.

Hart said Julian’s age made it a good contract for the team.

``Julian is a very talented individual who will give the fans of Cleveland and Mike Hargrove many quality outings in the years to come,″ Hart said.

The agreement with Tavarez ended a laborious process that began early last year.

``It was the most difficult contract I’ve ever done because of Julian’s age, potential and the unsettled labor agreement,″ agent Mike Powers said. ``It took at least six months.″

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