Aug 10, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Scott Atchison (48) pitches during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Cleveland Indians won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Weekly Wroundtable: Cleveland Indians Extend Scott Atchison

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Wahoo’s on First remains committed to covering the pulse of the Cleveland Indians. And nothing gets Indians fans fired up like contract extensions for non-marquee players. And when the Indians announced the team had extended Scott Atchison for 2015 with a club option for 2016, we at Wahoo’s on First became guilty of flipping out as well. So what better reason than Old Man Atch’s extension than to bring the return of our Weekly Wroundtable? Actual Indians issues and topics? Nothing!

Aug 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Scott Atchison (48) is congratulated in the dugout after pitching during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Heise: I like the extension. It seems relatively low-risk given what Atchison is. Sure, there is a chance to look foolish if he blows out his arm between now and the end of the season. But this helps the team start the process of building next season’s pen now. Pitching is a valuable commodity and the sooner you can address issues and get things in order the better. The way I see it, Atchison has had a great year so why not see if he can carry that over to next year or possibly the year after? If he can’t, it shouldn’t cost much to cut ties and move on. Sure, it’s not the flashiest of moves, but it won’t kill the bottom line. I’m ok with it.

Austin Ingraham: It’s not going to get many people fired up, but I think it’s a decent, low-risk move. Atchison isn’t a free agent, but taking a quick glance at potential 2015 free agents and their club options/buyout numbers presents this deal in a favorable light, with Mike Adams ($6 million-dollar option), Matt Albers ($3 million-dollar option, $200k buyout), Jared Burton ($3.6 million-dollar option, $200k buyout), Kyuji Fujikawa ($5.5 million-dollar option, $500k buyout), Dustin McGowan ($4 million-dollar option, $500k buyout) all expected to make more money. For the job Atchison does, the price we got him at sits well with me.

Matt Bretz: I like this signing as well. Only $1 million is guaranteed and he’s only going to get $900k in 2015. Even if the Indians did decide to move on the team would have invited a similar pitcher to camp next year, with a similar dollar amount once said pitcher made the team. They do it every year, it seems. Sometimes they work out, like Atchison has, but other times not so much, such as with Dan Wheeler or Jeremy Accardo. Sure, there is some risk in guaranteeing the money with six weeks left in the season, but it’s pretty negligible. It’s probably a bigger risk to non-tender him and try to find another retread to fill his role. Stick with Atchison, who has actually been pretty solid for a few years now (minus a hiccup in 2013).

Ed Carroll: I’m surprised at the extension, and can’t say it was a move I would have made. However, if one looks at this as the team tendering Atchison a contract for 2015, it makes a lot of sense. While I’m never a big fan of signing a player before it’s necessary, Atchison would have basically had to die between now and the end of the season to not consider bringing him back. Knowing what he will make ahead of time is likely worth any potential risks to the Indians. Also, it’s become clear Atchison has grown into both a leader on this team and, likely more importantly, a trusted reliever in manager Terry Francona‘s pen. Tito gets what he wants.

Nick Houghtaling: I decline to comment.

Nick Wheatley-Schaller:

Jeremy Klein: I think you could make a case for non-tendering him. Just look at his career track record. He wasn’t very good for the Mets in 2013 (3.75 FIP, 4.02 xFIP). This season, he’s benefitted from a spike in GB% (47.8% to 60.6%) with a slight bump in K% and an appreciable dip BB%. Point being, is the GB% spike the product of a 38-year-old reliever reinventing himself, or is it just a flukey 55-inning sample? Will the K% and BB% improvements hold when Atchison pitches in 2015 at age 39? 

May 22, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes (10) and pitcher Scott Atchison (48) celebrate after a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Indians defeated the Orioles 8-7 in thirteen innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know the answer, but the Indians are guaranteeing $900k to find out. That’s not terrible, but why guarantee the roster spot? Let Atchison hit free agency. If the Tigers come around and decide to pay him $3 million to pitch in the sixth inning, then let it happen. Go find another reliever coming off a so-so season just as likely to have the same small-sample fluke-iness as Atchison. Or better yet, go into the minor league system for a starter with fringy stuff, or only two good pitches and put him in the bullpen and allow his stuff to play up over shorter outings. At least there’s some upside there. With Atchison, the best case scenario is he does what he’s doing now. My concern would be that the Indians develop some sentimental attachment to Atchison, what with him being one of Francona’s “guys” and all, and keep him out of spring training over someone throwing the ball better, only to see Atchison tank and cost us a game or two (in WPA, not WAR) in 2015. It wouldn’t shock me of that happened, and each win counts when you are scrapping by in the Wild Card race as the Indians have the past two seasons A bet that’s only downside, even a small bet, is not a good one.

Andrew Schmid: I love the deal.  $900k for a good reliever is great value.  Even if Atchison is league-average, it’s a steal.  Most relievers will cost approximately $2-to-4-million-per year.   The only way that the Indians could get a solid bullpen arm for this cheap would be to sign a player to a minor-league deal, such as a Jim Johnson.  Really, this deal is just saving the Indians time in the offseason.  Now they can focus on locking up Corey Kluber or maybe Francisco Lindor, and building a winning club.  A good team needs a solid bullpen.  The Tribe needs a pen that can go deep into the season (and postseason) to start making headlines.

Steve Kinsella: Wait – we really are going to do a Wroundtable on a $900k extension of a guy who was going to be tendered anyways?

For real?

For real, Steve. We’re Wahoo’s on First, and we cover EVERYTHING regarding the Cleveland Indians. Sometimes excessively so.

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