Sep 2, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) in the dugout after being removed from the game during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Indians and Masterson Far Apart

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Indians and Masterson Headed for Arbitration?

There are serious things to address in the world of the Cleveland Indians. The most pressing of these issues pertains to their top starting pitcher, Justin Masterson, and the reportedly massive amount of distance that separates the two sides in contract negotiations. The Indians would rather not go to arbitration, but if we are to believe what we are hearing right now, they may not have a choice in the matter.

Friday was the designated day for players and teams to exchange their figures for 2104 salary expectations. Buckle up, folks.

The Indians and Justin Masterson are very far apart when it comes to his 2014 salary. Actually, saying they are far apart is being kind. This is something similar to Homer Simpson trying to jump gorge on Bart’s skateboard.

According to Dennis Manoloff, the gap is somewhere around $3.8-million. When both sides exchanged salary expectations on Friday, the Indians presented Masterson with a figure of $8.05-million. Meanwhile, Masterson informed the Indians that he expects to make $11.8-million in 2014. If they can not get closer and narrow the gap, this may be going to arbitration.

To make matters worse, as if they weren’t already bad enough to begin with, the gap separating the Indians and Justin Masterson is the widest between any arbitration eligible player and his team. This fact comes to you thanks to a Tweet from Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.

This gap brings into question several things. The most significant of which being how the Indians view Justin Masterson.

justin masterson

Aug 8, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) delivers in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

He is the ace of the staff but it would appear that they aren’t willing to pay him #1 starter money. Should this case go to arbitration it may make it next to impossible to sign Masterson long-term following the season. As it goes, in arbitration both sides present their case for why they made their respective offers. Call me crazy, but a couple of hours of hearing why they think he is only worth about $8-million dollars is not going to go a long way in making Masterson want to stay here long-term.

Long story short, this could get ugly in a hurry if both sides cannot narrow this gap.

As early as a week ago, the Indians and Masterson were reportedly going to begin preliminary discussions with the aim being a long-term contract agreement. That was before they filed their proposed 2014 salaries. And while both sides appear to be very far apart on salaries, we should begin to lose all hope, at least not yet.

Like any negotiation, both sides rarely make initial offers that could be considered fair. By all accounts, both sides are way off of what Masterson’s performance should dictate. According to MLB Trade Rumors, a fair salary for Justin Masterson’s services in 2014 would have been around $9.7-million. The midpoint between the two offers? Exactly $9.925-million. In other words, If both sides agreed to meet in the middle, they would be right on top of that $0.7-million figure. So again, not all is lost. This is simply how negotiations work.

The same can also be said for Michael Brantley. The Indians offered him $2.7-million while he proposed $3.8-million. If they meet in middle, Branltey would earn $3.25-million in 2014. And what did MLB Trade Rumors project Branltey’s 2014 salary at? $3.7-million. While both sides are nowhere near as far apart as they are with Masterson, It again illustrates how negotiations work.

Ultimately, this will reach a conclusion. Whether or not it’s resolved by their own volition or by the decision of an arbitrator, Justin Masterson will be in a Cleveland Indians uniform to begin the 2014 season. Whether or not he is in that same uniform when the season comes to an end is an entirely different question. Stay tuned. Things are going to get a lot more interesting before this is all said and done.

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Justin Masterson Michael Brantley

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