June 9, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) in the dugout against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Masterson and Indians Agree to Deal, Avoid Arbitration

Justin Masterson and Indians Agree on One-Year Deal

The nightmare is over. Or, is it just beginning? Either way you look at it, the Indians and Justin Masterson avoided going to arbitration on Tuesday by agreeing on a one-year deal reportedly worth $9,726,500. That figure is below the mid-point of $9.925-million based on the submitted offers of both Masterson and the Indians earlier in the off-season.

What the deal means is that the Indians have avoided the strenuous task of going to arbitration with a player that they would like to figure into their long-term plans. Arbitration, a process aimed at being an end point in contract disputes, often times stirs up feelings of contempt between both sides. After all, the process is hours of both sides saying why player X is or isn’t worth X amount of dollars. For the team, this means disparaging a player through use of stats, performance, and in the case of Vinnie Pestano, statements made to the media.

However, one has to feel that the Indians did themselves no favors in trying to make Justin Masterson feel wanted. By coming to an agreement on a dollar amount well below his asking price of $11.8-million, and below the $9.925-million mid-point, you have to wonder whether or not Masterson won’t still feel slighted by the deal. Had the Indians made a more lucrative offer to Masterson, perhaps it would have “greased the wheels” on a possible long-term extension. As they like to say, money talks.

On the flip side, why should the Indians have given in and offered Masterson more money in 2014? Why invest heavily in 2014 when there is no guarantee that he will be around beyond this season anyways? He is under their control and one way or the other he was going to be a member of the Cleveland Indians come opening day. So, from that stand point, kudos to the Indians for not relenting and coming to an agreement that worked for them financially.

As for Masterson, what the deal tells us is that his argument for why he should be worth $11.8-million was clearly not as solid as he had probably originally believed. Knowing that he was facing the decision of taking the $9.726-million or possibly only $8.05-million for the chance to earn $11.8-million, he settled for the lesser of two evils. Clearly, this was probably a case of take it or leave it by the Indians. Knowing he was probably unlikely to win his arbitration case, Masterson took the deal on the table.

Now the Indians and Justin Masterson can focus on the 2014 season, at least for now. With the talk of arbitration behind them, both sides can get back to business. For Masterson, that means getting himself ready for opening day. For the Indians, that means developing a strategy for how to handle the next unavoidable Masterson decision. That being, do they trade him at the deadline, continue to talk extension, or play out the season and see what happens? Either way, this is far from over for now.

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