Aug 21, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians starter Justin Masterson (63) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Extension Talks Between Indians and Justin Masterson are Over

Justin Masterson Extension Talks Fall Through

Don’t kill the messenger, but Justin Masterson is going to be a free agent after the 2014 season. Oh, the odds of him returning to Cleveland look to be non-existent. Happy Friday. You’re welcome.

Yesterday evening, news began circulating that the Indians and Masterson were nearing an extension that would keep the big right hander in Cleveland beyond the 2014 season. The catalyst for this news was actually Mastrson himself. Reportedly, he offered the Indians two proposals, a 3-year deal worth somewhere $51-million and a two-year deal worth $35-million.

In other words, Masterson tried to give the Indians a hometown discount. Both deals in that price range would have fallen below the $17.5-million average annual value handed out to Homer Bailey by the Reds. Bailey’s contract is widely believed the be the benchmark for Masterson and the fact that he would be willing to go below that number on an AAV basis would be a win for the Indians.

Apparently they didn’t see it that way.

Instead of accepting one of the offers from Masterson and his representatives, the Indians turned him down and made a counter offer. Their proposal fell far below what Masterson and his team were looking for. The Indians offered their ace two years at the price of $28-million, $14-million AAV. Knowing that he can probably earn twice as much on the open market, Masterson turned down their counter offer and ended negotiations with the team.

National MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal and Plain Dealer beat writer Paul Hoynes conveyed as much over Twitter. Rosenthal presented the story over Twitter in a subdued matter, simply stating what was offered and talks broke down. Hoynes, on the other hand, was far more blunt about the status of the contract negotiations.



WIth Masterson apparently headed for free agency, that once again raises questions about what the Indians will choose to do. Do they hold on to Masterson all year long and see what happens? Do they continue to try to break him down and reach an agreement (unlikely). Do they call it a day and trade him as soon as possible in order to prevent him from killing any and all trade value?

If history has taught us anything, it’s that the last scenario seems most likely. Knowing that the Indians can ill-afford to lose a player of Masterson’s value and talent level for next to nothing is not something they are going to want to do. The Indians are going to want to trade Masterson in order to rebuild the team or their farm system. That means an influx of prospects, none of which will be guaranteed to ever have an impact at the big league level.

But such is life in the world of a “small market” baseball team. Tough decisions have to be made and sometimes that means cutting bait before you lose everything. For that reason, look for the Indians to begin shopping Justin Masterson. That means his name is going to be all over rumor websites until either the Indians trade him or the trade deadline passes.

Buckle up, Tribe fans. The next four months just got that much more interesting, and not in a good way.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Contract Talks Justin Masterson

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