The Indians on Tuesday agreed to terms with starting pitcher Josh Tomlin on a two-year contract extension. The deal also includes a club option for the 2018 season.

Tomlin, 31, was already the likely front runner for the No. 5 spot in the rotation ahead of lead challenger Cody Anderson. This extension furthers his cause.

“I think that’s the plan,” Indians General Manager Mike Chernoff said when asked if he envisioned Tomlin being in the Opening Day rotation. “He’s obviously pitched out of the bullpen before, so he is going to play a meaningful role on the team and he’ll have every opportunity to be in the starting rotation.”

Tomlin will make $2.25 million in 2016, $2.5 million in 2017 and $3 million in 2018 if the Indians pick up his option, according to reports. The deal includes $2 million in incentives in 2017 and 2018 and a $750,000 buyout if the option year isn’t exercised.

Tomlin missed most of last season after he needed shoulder surgery in March. Once healthy in mid-August, he joined the rotation and responded nicely, posting a 7-2 record with a 3.02 ERA, 57 strikeouts and only eight walks in 10 starts.

Staying healthy has been Tomlin’s biggest hurdle to finding a steady spot in the Indians’ rotation. He needed Tommy John surgery in 2012 and was just starting to make progress in 2014. Last spring he started to feel discomfort in his throwing shoulder while competing for a spot in the rotation, warranting a second major surgery. The Indians sticking by him through his rehab led Tomlin to not think much about the money he could have made on the open market after this season.

“When they approached my agent about that contract, it was something that excited me and got me looking forward to this season,” Tomlin said. “I wasn’t really looking towards the future saying, ‘OK, these guys are getting this much money. I could potentially have that kind of money.’ It never entered my head. It was, ‘The Cleveland Indians wanted to give me a shot and I’m all about it.’?”

This signing also furthers the Indians’ case that they have one of the most controllable, affordable and talented starting rotations in baseball. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are signed long term to team-friendly and market-friendly contracts. Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Anderson are all under team control through at least the 2020 season.

Now Tomlin is signed through at least next season at an affordable price comparable to other deals handed out to pitchers this winter.

Most important, the Indians didn’t have to wade into unfriendly waters and compete with other teams as pitchers’ price tags have continued to rise.

“A contract like this is a mutual decision, and it’s a way for, hopefully, us to provide Josh with an alternative that allows him to stay in one place,” Chernoff said. “And, on his end, he’s provided us with some certainty moving forward and the ability — hopefully, given what his production is, the type of guy he is, the type of teammate he is — the ability to have somebody potentially on our staff that can make that type of impact without having to go on the free-agent market and compete for that talent.”

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ.