- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - The powerful arm was always apparent, and so was Carlos Carrasco’s potential.

When they merged last season, the Indians believed they had another quality starter for the future.

Carrasco finalized a $22 million, four-year contract on Tuesday, a day before he makes his season debut against Houston and two days after the Indians completed a $38 million, five-year deal with ace Corey Kluber. Carrasco’s agreement includes club options for 2019 and 2020.

“It’s very comforting to know that we’ll have guys that we feel can lead our rotation moving forward for the foreseeable future,” general manager Chris Antonetti said. “The benefit of having these contracts is we’re able to plan better around them and build a better team around them.”

Carrasco will earn $2,337,500 this year, the same as the salary in the one-year deal he agreed to in January. The new deal adds salaries of $4.5 million in 2016, $6.5 million in 2017 and $8 million in 2018.

Cleveland’s options are worth $9 million for 2019 and $9.5 million in 2020; if the Indians decline either option, Carrasco would receive a $662,500 buyout.

Carrasco had a breakout season last year, going 8-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 40 games. The right-hander began the season in the rotation but was banished to the bullpen, where he thrived. He returned to the rotation in August and took off after stopping a 12-game losing streak as a starter.

The 28-year-old finished with 140 strikeouts and 29 walks in 134 innings. He went 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA in his final 10 starts and was among the AL’s most dominant pitchers.

But beyond his statistics and development on the mound, Carrasco grew as a person and that maturity is what promoted the Indians to invest in him. Carrasco came to training camp intent on building off his success, and Antonetti said it wasn’t uncommon to see the Venezuelan in the weight room in Goodyear, Arizona, before any of his teammates.

“We don’t believe it’s an accident the season he had last year,” said Antonetti, who also credited Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway for Carrasco’s development.

Carrasco joined the Indians in 2009, acquired from Philadelphia in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and sat out the 2012 season. He began 2013 as the club’s No. 5 starter but opened the year serving a six-game suspension dating to 2011 for throwing at a batter.

He received another suspension, this time seven games, for hitting New York’s Kevin Youkilis, and was sent to Triple-A Columbus after going 0-4 as a starter.

But after a shaky beginning in 2014, Carrasco turned his career around.

In addition to Kluber and Carrasco, the Indians have secured long-term contracts with All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley (through 2017), catcher Yan Gomes (through 2019), second baseman Jason Kipnis (through 2019) and first baseman/DH Carlos Santana (through 2016). Committing to young, proven players served Cleveland well in the 1990s, when the team made two World Series appearances.

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