Matt Swartz has developed a very accurate model that MLBTR uses to project arbitration salaries, as explained in this series of posts. We've heard from many MLB teams and agencies that reference the projections in their work. The Indians are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Justin Masterson (5.108): $9.7MM
- Drew Stubbs (4.047): $3.8MM
- Michael Brantley (3.131): $3.7MM
- Marc Rzepczynski (3.132): $1.4MM
- Vinnie Pestano (2.133, Super Two): $1.3MM
- Josh Tomlin (3.069): $1.1MM
- Lou Marson (4.036): $1MM
- Blake Wood (3.079): $800K
- Frank Herrmann (2.147, Super Two): $600K
Masterson will be entering his contract year in 2014 and projects to earn a strong salary his last time through arbitration. He made his first All-Star team in 2013, and posted a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings overall. His last start came on September 2nd, as he was knocked out by an oblique strain and assumed a relief role upon his return because he did not have time to build up his stamina. Masterson had two sub-4.00 ERA seasons out of four in Cleveland, although he has not yet put together one with a strong strikeout rate and a walk rate below 3.0 per nine. If the Indians are to extend the 28-year-old groundballer this offseason, a five-year deal between those of John Danks ($65MM) and Jered Weaver ($85MM) would make sense.
Tomlin had Tommy John surgery in August last year, and spent most of his season in the minors after finishing rehab. The Indians may see fit to non-tender him.
Brantley had a decent year, although he hasn't done anything that would warrant a multiyear extension. Stubbs seems stretched as more than a fourth outfielder, and with a $3.8MM projection, the Indians should consider non-tendering him. Marson's season was ruined by an April collision, after which he battled a neck sprain and shoulder injury. He appeared in only three games, and is a candidate to be cut loose.
In Rzepczynski, Pestano, Wood, and Herrmann, the Indians have four arbitration eligible relievers. Rzepczynski joined the Indians in a July trade with the Cardinals and was excellent in 27 appearances for the Tribe. He's penciled in to next year's bullpen. Pestano, once the heir apparent to former closer Chris Perez, battled an elbow injury and lost velocity this year, and was optioned upon the Indians' acquisition of Rzepczynski. Pestano still qualifies as a Super Two, and is still worth retaining for 2014.
Wood, who had Tommy John surgery in May 2012, was claimed off waivers by the Indians from the Royals last November. He remained in the minors after his rehab stint ended, though he earned a September call-up due to solid work in Triple-A. Though he has control issues, Wood is probably worth the roster spot. Herrmann had Tommy John in March of this year, picking up service time in 2013 while spending the entire year on the DL. He would also be cheap to retain.
Assuming the Indians tender contracts to Masterson, Brantley, Rzepczynski, Pestano, Wood, and Herrmann, they're looking at an estimated $17.5MM for six arbitration eligible players. However, it is far from certain Stubbs, Tomlin, and Marson will be non-tendered, and they represent an additional potential $5.9MM.