The Indians officially signed Russell Branyan today to a one-year, $2MM deal. He can earn another $1MM in incentives, and the contract includes a $5MM mutual option for 2011. ESPN.com's Buster Olney was first to report the agreement on Friday. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes that Chris Gimenez was outrighted to make room for Branyan, but will remain in camp as a non-roster invitee.
Branyan, 34, hit 31 homers and slugged .520 for the Mariners last year. They offered him the chance to return on a one-year deal with a club option for 2011 and he turned it down. Branyan was looking for $20-30MM earlier in the offseason, but he didn't find offers that lucrative. Some clubs were wary of the back issues that prevented Branyan from playing after August 28th last year.
Ultimately, the Indians and Rays were finalists and Branyan chose to return to Cleveland. He figures to get at bats at first base and DH. Branyan played 35 games at third in 2008 and he has experience in the outfield, so Indians manager Manny Acta could move him around the diamond.