Extension Talks Between Masterson, Indians Fall Through

TODAY, 7:33pm: For his part, GM Chris Antonetti says that he met with Masterson and all are in agreement "to table discussions on a multi-year contract and potentially revisit it down the road," reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Antonetti says that he prefers not to hold discussions during the season, while Masterson says (via a tweet from Bastian) that he would be open to doing so.

Addressing the team's assessment of Masterson's market value, Antonetti said that the Bailey contract was just one data point. "We were very cognizant of that contract," he explained, "but there are others. I feel like we made an earnest attempt to get something done and offered Justin a contract that was fair relative to the market." Weighing heavily for Cleveland, though, was its future commitments and expected increases in arbitration payouts. "That's a consideration," said Antonetti. "I think the thing that we want, and I know Justin wants, is to be a part of a championship-caliber team. So what we need to do is look at how we fairly compensate players, but fit them within the constructs of what we expect our payrolls will be moving forward."

6:07pm: While acknowledging that talks had broken down, Masterson did not rule out the possibility of another attempt, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports on Twitter"Although the doors are technically closed," said Masterson, "they all have doorknobs so you can open them again."

YESTERDAY, 9:41pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Indians countered with a two-year deal and a club option at a considerably lower annual salary — roughly $14MM (Twitter link).

9:30pm: Hoynes reports that Masterson and agent Randy Rowley offered a two-year and a three-year proposal, with the two-year offer coming in at roughly $35MM and the three-year offer coming in at roughly $51MM.

8:49pm: A long-term deal between the Indians and No. 1 starter Justin Masterson seemed highly likely to materialize when reports surfaced that Masterson had proposed a three-year extension to Cleveland. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that talks between the two sides have fallen through after Cleveland did not accept the three-year offer, which had an annual value under Homer Bailey's $17.5MM mark. Free agency now seems likely for Masterson, says Rosenthal (Twitter links). Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer hears the same, tweeting that talks between the two sides "are over."

Masterson is already under contract for the 2014 season after agreeing to a one-year, $9.7625MM contract to avoid arbitration this offseason. A three-year extension would have bought out the 2015-17 seasons — Masterson's age-30 through age-32 seasons. The three-year term is almost certainly lower than what Masterson can expect in free agency next offseason, even if he rejects a qualifying offer.

A three-year deal worth $51-53MM seems like a reasonable price to pay for Masterson, who has turned in an ERA south of 3.50 in two of the past three seasons and established himself as one of the best ground-ball pitchers in the game. Cleveland isn't a deep-pocketed club though, and they spent at an uncharacteristic level last offseason to sign Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to four-year commitments. It's unclear if that spending spree is related to the Masterson situation, though.

If Masterson does reach the open market next offseason, that's bad news for the likes of James Shields, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester (if Lester does not reach an extension of his own), as it would add another quality arm to the top of the free agent crop.

38 Responses to Extension Talks Between Masterson, Indians Fall Through Leave a Reply

  1. I can see why the Indians would be hesitant about committing big money to a pitcher who has yet to string together consecutive great seasons, but in choosing not to do so they’re basically letting him walk after this season. The Indians need to keep Masterson considering the pitching talent they’ve let go in the past.

    • pft2 1 year ago

      They got 30 million in revenue sharing dollars last year, spending half of it on their best pitcher is probably not crippling.

      • Vandals Took The Handles 1 year ago

        In their defense, the Indians have not gotten money from other MLB teams for 2 or 3 years now. They have been making a profit, and Paul Dolan allegedly even did a presentation to other MLB owners on how teams in “small” markets can make money – which he was quite proud of.

  2. Jonathunder 1 year ago

    So one of the first players ever to willing take less money to stay with us, our best starter, and one of the solid veterans on our team, and we say no, we don’t want to pay him as much as Homer Bailey? Really? Showing up our players like this doesn’t help bring new guys in, or convince current players that they should stay.

    • Vandals Took The Handles 1 year ago

      They did the same thing with Omar Visquel and Victor Martinez – both of whom wanted to stay and were willing to take hometown discounts.

      • Jonathunder 1 year ago

        And I believe Thome can be on that list as well, but we’re if we’re trying to establish our self as a contender and destination for free agents, this is not the way to do it.

    • homer
      psabella 1 year ago

      I realize tribe fans are reeling on emotion but 17.5 per over 2 and 17 over three is not a discount for Masterson,. I hope the guy does great but stop saying he is giving a hometown discount. I have no opinion on whether the tribe should pay it or not, i do not have enough information.

      • Vandals Took The Handles 1 year ago

        It is a large discount.

        Masterson can get a guaranteed AAV for $17 over 5-6 years. If he signs for 2-3 years and gets hurt, he will be losing a tremendous amount of money.

        Rule of thumb – you take less years, you get more per year.

  3. Shin_Soo_Choo 1 year ago

    Sabathia, Lee, and now Masterson. Can’t wait for Salazar in 5 years.

  4. ShaneRedsFan 1 year ago

    Indians fans deserve so much better.

  5. Jason 1 year ago

    Very, very disappointed by that news. Masterson’s my favorite player on the Indians and would really hate to see him go. Even if it’s not a huge discount, it’s a very fair deal for a very good pitcher. I honestly think he’s going to regress a little bit from 2013, but even then, that’s still a well above average pitcher. Even when completely expected from Dolan, very disappointed

    • John Lazzaro 1 year ago

      Sorry to tell you but the other 3 listed in the article are better than Justin Masterson. Shields has always been better than Masterson. Max Scherzer is a CY Young Winner. Jon Lester has always been a tough effort from a Yankee fan point of view. They’re all vastly superior than Masterson. How would a guy like that being added be “bad news” Masterson is really overrating himself if anything else.

  6. TheBigNice 1 year ago

    Wow. That counter offer basically means, “see ya.” Sorry Indians fans.

    • pft2 1 year ago

      Pretty sure Masterson would be angry enough not to entertain any offers from them as a free agent. Of course, it depends on how he does this year. An injury kills his market value. Indians seem so sure other teams won’t be interested in paying more than Santana money for him. Wonder how they know that, hmmm.

  7. BENT_WOOKIE 1 year ago


  8. Sufferfortribe 1 year ago

    No matter what happens, I’ll still be a Tribe fan. I really like Justin as a p[layer and as a man. Now, as far as Dolan is concerned…………………………….

  9. Tko11 1 year ago

    I just realized Masterson is Jamaican…mind is blown

    • Sufferfortribe 1 year ago

      Ya mon……..but no voodoo here. Christian, mon.

    • pft2 1 year ago

      He was born there. I think his parents were missionaries

  10. Fernando 1 year ago

    Disappointing. Pains me as an Indians fan. The backlash will be huge. Attendance will suffer, any hope this team was going in the right direction is now shattered… the fan base is fragile and won’t trust the FO. This will not help.

  11. UltimateYankeeFan 1 year ago

    Not re-signing Masterson will come back to haunt the Indians when he moves on for the 2015 season. So the Indians will get a compensation pick after Masterson rejects their QO next winter. Big deal draft picks at best are crapshoot.

  12. UltimateYankeeFan 1 year ago

    How is it that teams like the Reds can afford and find a way to re-sign Homer Bailey for $17MM plus per year. The Brewers can sign a guy like Garza for 4 years $50MM and the Indians have to nickel and dime Masterson who actually wants to stay in Cleveland to the point where they cut off negotiations. All 3 teams are mid market teams but the Indians seem to want to act like a small market team with their payroll.

    • dieselman 1 year ago

      It’s called cheap — way out of their league as owners.

    • Shin_Soo_Choo 1 year ago

      Judging by their attendance, I’d say the Tribe is a small market team.

  13. Mike1L 1 year ago

    That’s fascinating. Cleveland is offering less that the QO for two consecutive years and then getting a free option on the third. If Masterson is comfortable on injury and performance issues, he can get more for 2015 just by playing and waiting for a 2015-level QO. I suppose the implicit threat is that Cleveland’s going to make the QO’s baseball’s modern version of the Reserve Clause, but, given the prices for FA pitchers who aren’t quite at Masterson’s level, I can’t see as this is anything more than a PR move to the fans.

  14. WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 1 year ago

    The Indians said no to 2/35, wow. The AAV is a little high but its worth it on a short tern deal.

  15. Tom Rush 1 year ago

    How CHEAP can the Dolans get, they have a pitcher who wants to stay with the Tribe. But NO they are not willing to give him that small amount, but they will go out and give some second rate pitcher just to have a body to pitch. I hope Justin goes somewhere and wins 10 Cy Young awards. How’s a bird go? CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP!,,,,,

  16. Jennifer 1 year ago

    I wish Rosenthal and others would quit using “AAV” when discussing Masterson and Bailey unless they stopped using nominal dollars.

    I wish posters and the media would stop using “discount” unless they defined it.

    Masterson in interviews said he was looking to be paid a “market rate.” This apparently consisted of $17.5 million for two years beginning in 2015 and $17 million for three years also beginning in 2015. So if there is a discount there it is because he and his agent thought he was worth more and the discount was to reflect the shift in risk to the Tribe because he is already under contract this year.

    While looking at his “market value” unless one thinks the Bailey contract is a true measure of the market there is scant, if any, evidence that if he had been a free agent this year and signed a three year contract he could have received $17 million (ignoring the need to add to it the “discount”) per year for three years

    It is also important to bear in mind that for most teams the market price comes into play only when the highest amount another team will pay is no more than a team’s evaluation of the player’s value.

    While the ownership is “cheap” crowd is using the failure to extend Masterson as another example of ownership’s unwillingness to spend I haven’t seen a single one of them make even a marginally reasonable case that Masterson’s value was at least equal to what he was asking for. I wonder how many of them in their daily lives make large sum purchases paying well excess of value.

    While the Tribe next offseason might not be able to get a pitcher comparable to Masterson for three years for $51 million that is irrelevant. The correct question is whether the Tribe can use the $51 million to obtain total value of at least $51 million.

    What about Masterson’s willingness to take fewer years? After this season Masterson will a free agent and will get anything from zero to more than he asked for from the Tribe. The zero comes from having a serious injury that would prevent him from pitching next year and everything above that amount being dependent on how well he pitches this year.

    So essentially Masterson was willing to trade uncertainty for certainity at what he currently perceives to be his “market value.”

    The case I have tried to make is that any bargain Masterson was making was illusory. The implication is that Masterson was bargaining in bad faith. I don’t think that is the case. I think his advisors gave him bad advice. These are the same advisors that overreached in the arbitration process.

    • Jason 1 year ago

      I agree that money wise it’s not a big discount, but years wise it’s significant. The Indians don’t like offering longer deals for pitchers, and so Masterson offered a fair deal at a length that the Indians would be okay with, but they didn’t even take that. True, Masterson isn’t quite the caliber of Kershaw, Darvish, Price, Wainwright, etc but he’s on par with or above Matt Garza, Nolasco, and Edwin Jackson, all of whom are 50+ million pitchers. True, a 35 million 2 year deal costs more per year, but the total committed money is far less.

      • Vandals Took The Handles 1 year ago

        Aces get $25-plus. Tanaka got $222 as a #2. Masterson is pretty much a tweener – a #2 or 3 pitcher. A $17 AAV for a pitcher in his prime at age 29 and giving up free agent years is not out of line on a short-term contract.

      • Jennifer 1 year ago

        Garxa got $50, Jackson got $49 and Nolasco got $49 with all being four year deals.

        Only elite starters (except Bailey who’s contract length seemed dictated by the Reds cash flow needs) get more than four. Unless Masterson improves this year getting four years next year are unlikely.

        So if there was a discount in terms of years it was one year-

        The three pitchers you named were all free agents when they signed their contracts. This means their new teams assumed four years of risk. The Tribe if it extends Masterson is taking on three years of additional risk and thus would be at risk for four years.

        By being willing to to extend three years Masterson is trading athe risk of possibly not getting a four or more next year with the Tribe assuming the risk that he’ll pitch poorly or hurt next year.

        Note too that Terry Pluto reported on Friday the Tribe would have been willing to go to $14 million per year.or $42 million. Add the nearly $10 million he gets this year and you get a total comparable to your pitchers.

        Masterson on the other hand, was looking for $17.5 for two years and $17 for three. For a three year total of nearly 45 and a four year of nearly $61.

  17. TheNextEpstein 1 year ago

    Letting Kazmir and Ubaldo walk I could deal with. But letting Masterson walk as well after he offered a significant discount, leaving essentially 2 years and 35mm on the table for a 3 year $51mm deal is ludicrous. He even offered a further discount of 2 years at $35! Bailey essentially got a 5 year $95mm deal leaving out his last arb year, Masterson is a direct comparable and could easily command 5 and 85mm. Masterson could make more just on qualifying offers then what the Indians offered. What a low ball by them, and if I am Masterson I am insulted, especially after he is already giving them a 35mm discount, they ask for more!

    • Fernando 1 year ago

      I think they should lock up Masterson. But I think Bailey was an overpay. And I don’t think Masterson should be compared to him, since Bailey has been more consistent. Nevertheless, Masterson was quoted in saying that the door could be reopened in the future, so apparently he is still willing to talk. I hope they can reach a middle ground. Would be nice to keep him around.

      • Fernando 1 year ago

        It’s also clear that the priority is locking up Kipnis. I think they would have no chance of doing so if they sign Masterson. Though I’m not so sure Kipnis actually wants an extension. I hope he does but I have the feeling he has dollar signs in his eyes after becoming an all star… and may want to just become a free agent.

  18. Jim McGrath 1 year ago

    How about Masterson even up for Clay Buchholtz??? The Red Sox like both guys but if you want someone who has put up decent numbers Clay might be your guy. When Masty was with the RS early in his career he was a bullpen occasional starter. I for one would love to see him back in Boston long term.
    In addition Francona knows both guys–see what he thinks…

  19. Daniel Morairity 1 year ago

    This AL Central is going to be a dog fight this year and the tigers might have the edge for a little bit

  20. TigerFan1968 1 year ago

    The Indians spending provides laughs every year. Lets review only the

    most recent gaffe. We bid adieu to Chris Perez. Good. We have three excellent relievers who could close in Smith,Allen,Shaw. Good. What to do? Let’s let Smith walk, and bring in a mediocre closer whose own mediocre team does not want and let’s overpay him. Very bad. Now as for Masterson I agree with Dolan here. He is asking for too much, there are a lot of aces available for 2015, he is not a proven ace, we can at least offer a QO, and finally if he really wants to stay, proves he is an ace in 2014, then we can make him a fair offer at the end of 2014. It is not personal, it should always be business Justin.

  21. Sufferfortribe 1 year ago

    I agree with you, Ben. When’s the last time the Tribe drafted and developed a true superstar?
    I dream of the day when Shapiro, Antonetti, and the Dolan’s are history.

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