Michael Brantley Will Sign a 4-Year $25-Million Extension
Facing the possibility of an arbitration hearing, the Indians and outfielder Michael Brantley tried their best to work out a deal that would make both sides happy. Mission accomplished.
Reports began circulating Monday evening that the Indians had come to an agreement with Michael Brantley on a four-year $25-million dollar extension that will keep him in Cleveland for the foreseeable future. The deal also include a club option in what would be the fifth year of the deal worth $11-million. For Brantley, the extension gives him security in knowing where he will be for the next four or five seasons. It also marks a significant raise from the $526,900 salary he earned in 2013. If we are to believe that the cost of a win is somewhere in the neighborhood of $7-million, and at an average annual value of $6.25-million over the first four years, this deal could be viewed as a bargain as Brantley enters into his prime years. Over his first five seasons, he has accumulated 6.6 bWAR with the bulk of that, 3.3 in 2012 and 2.7 in 2013, coming over the past two seasons. So while at the moment this could be perceived as an overpay, three years from now it could be a steal.
For the Indians, this marks a commitment to investing in the talent they currently have on the roster, something fans have accused them of not wanting to do over the years. The fact that it was Michael Brantley should come as no surprise. While his number do not jump off the stat sheet, he has shown incredible consistency, especially over the past two seasons. In parts of five seasons, Brantley has posted a .277/.330/.382 slash line with a .286/.340/.399 line over the past two seasons. There is also the hope that Brantley may continue to develop more power after hitting 10 home runs in a season for the first time in 2013.
In addition to his consistency, Michael Brantley has also been extremely flexible during his time with the Indians, something that I’m sure was not overlooked in all of this. Whatever the team has asked of him, he has done, without hesitation. This has included moving back and forth from left field and center field and up and down the lineup. During his tenure, Brantley has hit everywhere in the Indians lineup, including in the cleanup spot. and responded well with every move.
With Masterson, a long-term deal appears to be out of the question for now. Talks of an extension have cooled with the Tribe’s ace with both parties choosing to focus instead on a one-year pact for the 2014 season. It’s not out of the question that Masterson could still sign an extension, but with each and every passing day it appears ever more likely that he will be hitting free agency following this season.
Meanwhile, Kipnis isn’t even eligible for arbitration yet, but the need to talk extension has begun. Given his progression from prospect to all-star and possible face of the franchise, Kipnis will get a considerable raise sometime in near future. The only question is whether or not it will come via a joint agreement with an extension, or at the hands of an arbitration panel.
In the meantime, Michael Brantley is the first domino to fall in what could be a series of long-term extensions for current players. The Indians have made a commitment to him and hopefully they will be rewarded with four more years of solid, consistent production.