Pitcher Justin Masterson and the Indians appear to have "shelved" discussions of a long-term contract extension, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. For the time being, at least, the sides will instead focus on dealing with Masterson's arbitration case.
Hoynes reported about two weeks back that player and club were set to negotiate a long-term deal. While both sides are said to be interested in a new contract, Hoynes says that "talks have gained little, if any, traction." Today's news echoes another recent report, from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, that discussions to date have failed to produce momentum.
Of course, the two parties still have plenty of work left to do on reaching a salary for 2014. Masterson filed at $11.8MM, with the team countering at $8.05MM. The resulting $3.75MM gap is the largest in absolute terms of any of the year's arbitration cases, leaving both sides facing a high-stakes hearing if a settlement cannot be hammered out. Spanning that gulf could be tricky, and GM Chris Antonetti has indicated that Masterson's case (or that of one of his teammates) could go to a hearing. Masterson's hearing is scheduled for February 20th, Bastian tweets, which does leave plenty of time to find a compromise.
Masterson, a 6'6" righty who turns 29 in March, has logged four straight seasons of at least 180 innings for Cleveland. Though he has posted middling earned run averages over two of those campaigns (4.70 in 2010 and 4.93 in 2012), his other two tallies are those of a top-of-the-rotation starter (3.21 in 2011 and 3.45 in 2013). In the aggregate, he was worth 11.7 fWAR in the 2010-13 span, placing him among the top thirty starters in the game during that stretch. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has pegged Masterson's extension value in the range of $65MM to $85MM over a five year term.