Indians, Shapiro working on contract extension

CLEVELAND -- Mark Shapiro has one more contract he'd like to get finalized before the end of spring training -- his own.

The Cleveland Indians' general manager, in the final season of a two-year extension he signed in 2004, has had productive negotiations with Cleveland owner Paul Dolan about a new, multiyear contract.

"We have had a series of positive and substantive conversations that leave me hopeful we will get something done," Shapiro said.

Dolan and Shapiro had agreed to delay talks until after the club's winter makeover, which included the signing of six free agents as well as the acquisition of second baseman Josh Barfield in a trade.

With the Indians' roster set -- at least until spring training starts -- Shapiro and Dolan have been discussing a wide range of bigger-picture issues about the club, including the GM's future.

"They [the talks] have gone well," Dolan said Thursday. "I fully expect that we'll get a deal with Mark."

Ideally, the sides would like to have something done during the early stages of spring training. Indians pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Winter Haven, Fla., by Feb. 15.

While negotiating player's contracts in the past, Shapiro has preferred to suspend talks if they couldn't be completed before start of the regular season. He may do the same with his own deal.

Shapiro, 39, has been with the Indians since 1992. He took over as GM in November 2001, replacing John Hart who guided the Indians to six AL Central titles and two World Series appearances from 1994-01.

In his first year, Shapiro began reconstructing the Indians, and through a series of bold trades and free-agent signings, he rebuilt both the major league team and Cleveland's minor league system.

The Indians won just 68 games in 2003 and 80 in 2004. But in 2005, Cleveland went 93-69 and just missed making the playoffs. For his efforts, Shapiro was selected executive of the year by the Sporting News.

However, despite being picked as a contender in 2006, the Indians finished 78-84 and in fourth place in their division.

Shapiro's goal this offseason was to rebuild Cleveland's awful bullpen and he did so by signing free agent relievers Joe Borowski, Keith Foulke, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz to one-year deals. The Indians had a major league-low 23 saves last season.

Shapiro also added free agent outfielders David Dellucci and Trot Nixon, and acquired Barfield from the San Diego Padres for infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff and right-hander Andrew Brown.