Justin Masterson Rumors

Overnight Notes: Masterson, Twins, Rockies, Myers

Acknowledging that he'd listen to offers for anyone and everyone on his roster in the right scenario, Indians GM Chris Antonetti suggested it'd be difficult to move Justin Masterson, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer details. Antonetti declined to comment on the possibility of offering Masterson an extension, but added, "What I can say is how much we appreciate the contributions that Justin has made to our organization and we’d love for him to be an Indian long term."

Here are a few more overnight links from around MLB:

  • If Bronson Arroyo decides he wants to be in Minnesota, he'd be the Twins' top choice of their potential starting pitching targets, says Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter).
  • The Rockies have expressed interest in free agent reliever Ryan Madson, but remain more likely to trade for a bullpen arm than sign one, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • After missing most of last season, Brett Myers is healthy and is seeking a job this winter, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • The Diamondbacks' acquisition of Mark Trumbo is the latest example of how the team operates, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. As Piecoro points out, Arizona generally doesn't care about getting what the industry would consider "full value" for their trade chips.
  • The uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka continues to slow the pace of negotiations for the top starting pitchers already on the market, tweets Berardino.
  • A Monday report suggested another NPB starter, Kenta Maeda, could play for an MLB team as soon as 2015, but the latest word on Maeda indicates the right-hander might even be posted this winter. Ben Badler of Baseball America has the details.
  • Badler also writes that changes are coming to the limits on international spending in 2014, with MLB teams set to lose up to $300K in signing money that had previously been exempt from bonus pools.

Indians Willing To Listen On Masterson, Cabrera

10:41am: Despite their need for a shortstop, the Mets aren't in on Cabrera, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).

TUESDAY, 10:32am: The Indians are also willing to listen on Asdrubal Cabrera, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Morosi notes, Cleveland has a potential franchise shortstop on the horizon in Francisco Lindor. Their willingness to shop Cabrera isn't surprising given Lindor's presence, Cabrera's $10MM salary in 2014 and the fact that Cabrera slumped to a .242/.299/.402 batting line in 2013.

MONDAY: The Indians are open to fielding Justin Masterson trade pitches, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal reports that Cleveland will listen on Masterson, with the idea of targeting players that would remain under team control for more years.

Masterson, 28, enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2013, posting a 3.45 ERA and 9.1 K/9 in 32 outings (29 starts) for the Indians. However, he's entering his final arbitration-eligible season, meaning he'll likely earn between $9-10MM in 2014, based on Matt Swartz's projections. Masterson will also be eligible for free agency a year from now, so the Indians will have to decide soon whether or not he'll be part of the club's long-term plan.


Arbitration Breakdown: Bailey and Masterson

Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Both Justin Masterson (pictured) and Homer Bailey enter their third year of arbitration with relatively similar credentials this year, and both are projected to get very similar raises around $4MM. Masterson-JustinSince both players are not first-time eligible players, the rules of arbitration generally dictate that pre-platform year performances are not very importance. Rather, the current salaries on top of which they will receive raises suffice as summaries of their pre-platform year performance.

Masterson and Bailey had pretty similar pre-platform salaries too: $5.35MM for Bailey and $5.6875MM for Masterson. In 2013, Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings with 195 strikeouts, while Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings with 199 strikeouts. Obviously the ERA and strikeout numbers are almost identical, and the model seems to think that Masteron’s three extra wins only help him a tiny bit more than Bailey’s 16 extra innings. Playing time is extremely important in arbitration hearings, so it is not too surprising that they are still seen as similar by the model. At the same time, Masterson will definitely get some benefit from his wins. We project him to get a $4.0125MM raise as compared with Bailey’s $3.95MM raise, leaving them with $9.7MM and $9.3MM projected salaries respectively.

The comparable starting pitchers in the last few years seem to reinforce these raise approximations. In the last seven years, I looked for third-time arbitration eligible starting pitchers with ERAs in the 3.00-4.00 range, between 10-20 wins, and within 175-225 innings, and found nine guys who met those criteria. They received raises ranging from $2.5-5.9MM, which is obviously a pretty big window, but other than Zambrano’s $5.9MM raise in 2007 (which is largely viewed as an anomaly), the raises fall in the $2.5MM-$4.075MM range. Of course, the lowest raise in there was Wandy Rodriguez’s $2.5MM, but that came as part of a multi-year deal in which he was initially offered $3MM, so maybe the real range is from Kevin Correia’s $2.85MM in 2010 to Oliver Perez’s $4.075MM in 2008. In general, these seven guys are all pretty similar to Masterson and Bailey but I suspect that both inflation and slightly better performances will push them both to the high end of this spectrum.

The limitation on Bailey’s performance is definitely his win total. With just 11 wins in 2013, his team’s poor run support will cost him. A few pitchers in the aforementioned group seem to meet these criteria pretty well. One is Matt Garza, who in 2012 was coming off a 10-10 record to go with a 3.32 ERA in 198 innings. He also had 197 strikeouts, very similar to Bailey’s 199. Of course Bailey had a slightly worse ERA at 3.45, but he also had eleven extra innings pitched. Given the similarity of their numbers but with the extra win and eleven innings, it seems likely that Bailey could argue that Garza’s $3.55MM raise could be a floor for his 2014 raise.

Another possibility that Bailey could use to justify a raise closer to $4MM is the $4.3MM raise that Anibal Sanchez won in a hearing in 2012. He had even fewer wins than Bailey that year, amassing only an 8-9 record, and his 3.67 ERA was worse than Bailey’s too. He did have 202 strikeouts, but had under 200 innings (196 1/3, to be exact) which could give Bailey a leg up on him. Arbitration cases that go to hearings are often tough to use in newer hearings because obviously $4.3MM was seen by the Marlins at the time as too high and chances are a settlement would have come in below $4.3MM (the Marlins offered Sanchez a $3.2MM raise). But nonetheless, both Sanchez and Garza could help Bailey argue for the $3.95MM raise that I’m projecting for him.

This is not very different from the $4.0125MM that I have down for Masterson, even though Masterson had 14 wins. To try to find a good set of comparables for Masterson, I honed the win range to 13-15 wins, and looked for guys with ERAs in the 3.00-4.00 range who also had 175-225 innings. Perez got a $4.075MM raise from the Mets in 2008 when he won his arbitration hearing. Like Sanchez’s raise, Perez’s raise needs to be taken with a grain of salt because it was the result of a hearing, not a settlement, but the fact that Perez’s 15-10 record and 3.56 ERA looks so similar to Masterson’s 14-10 ERA with his 3.45 ERA, that it does warrant a comparison. Perez also only had 177 innings, compared with Masterson’s 193.

Another good, more recent comparable for Masterson is Jason Vargas' raise last year. Vargas got a $3.65MM raise after going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 217 1/3 innings. Of course, Vargas only had 141 strikeouts which puts him well below Masterson’s 195. The extra innings and equal number of wins are a good starting point for the Indians to try to argue that Masterson shouldn’t top the $3.65MM number. Masterson would be better off trying to argue similarity to Sanchez and Perez, whose raises exceeded $4MM after winning cases, but it remains to be seen how much weight those will carry.

Overall, it’s not hard to see that both pitchers will fall reasonably close to a $4MM raise. Some of this is going to come down to how inflation is treated this year, and that is always a bit of a wild card. I suspect that if I’m off in my projections, I’m probably more like to be a few hundred thousand low for both pitchers than high, but if either one of these pitchers settles first and beats $4MM, I suspect the second player to settle to use the first as justification for a larger raise himself.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Central Rumors: Hart, Pelfrey, Suzuki, Cubs, Indians

Today's news out of the AL and NL Central..


Ohio Notes: Jimenez, LaPorta, Masterson, Reds

Here's the latest baseball news from the Buckeye State's two teams…

  • "We talked about a lot of different ways to bring Ubaldo [Jimenez] back,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).  Hoynes interprets this as meaning that the Tribe made Jimenez a multiyear offer in addition to the $14.1MM one-year qualifying offer, but Jimenez is very likely to sign elsewhere.
  • Once a top prospect and the key part of the Brewers' trade package to the Indians for C.C. Sabathia in 2008, Matt LaPorta is now a minor league free agent and may not return to the Tribe.  Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at LaPorta's career and talks to Indians director of player development Paul Atkins, who doesn't sound optimistic about LaPorta re-signing with the organization.
  • Also from that piece, Antonetti didn't comment on whether the team was looking to sign Justin Masterson to a multiyear extension.  “I will tell you how much we value Justin and what he’s brought to this team since we acquired him in 2009,” Antonetti said.  Masterson emerged as the Tribe's ace last season and is a free agent next winter.
  • The acquisition of Brayan Pena means that the Reds "are obviously up to something" in regards to a catcher trade, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.  The consensus has been that Ryan Hanigan will be dealt but Fay wonders if "a major trade" is in the works that would send Devin Mesoraco elsewhere.
  • Fay also notes that if the Reds trade Brandon Phillips, speedster Billy Hamilton could be a potential replacement at second base.  Hamilton was originally drafted as a shortstop but was seen by some in the Reds organization as a future second baseman.
  • The Reds will hire Jay Bell as their new bench coach, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Bell was serving as the Pirates hitting coach and previously worked as the Diamondbacks' bench coach.  Bell and new Cincinnati manager Bryan Price both worked in Arizona's organization at the same time.

Stark On Shields, Stanton, Masterson, Fowler

Jayson Stark leads his latest column for ESPN with a discussion of the ten managers currently in the last year of their contracts, noting that teams these days are more willing to allow skippers' contracts to expire.  Also from Stark's column:

  • One American League executive would rather give a $100MM contract to James Shields than Zack Greinke, because Greinke sometimes "seems a little disinterested" while Shields is regarded as more of a competitor.  Shields is on track for free agency after the 2014 season, assuming the Royals exercise a club option for about $13.5MM after this season.
  • An NL exec wouldn't give up Travis D'Arnaud or Zack Wheeler for Giancarlo Stanton
  • A Justin Masterson-Dexter Fowler trade between the Indians and Rockies "was talked about extensively early in the offseason," according to Stark.  Masterson is under the Indians' control through 2014, while the Rockies control Fowler through 2015.
  • In regard to shortstop Jean Segura, Brewers GM Doug Melvin commented, "I see people talk about the [Jurickson] Profars and even the Dee Gordons. But they never talk about him. He's an exciting player."  Melvin acquired Segura, John Hellweg, and Ariel Pena from the Angels for Greinke last summer.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements — those worth less than $4MM — right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.

Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB…

  • The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM).  Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
  • The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
  • The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter).  Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
  • The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
  • Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
  • The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
  • The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
  • The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
  • The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
  • The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
  • The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
  • The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter).  Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
  • The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
  • The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter
  • The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
  • The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
  • The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
  • The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
  • The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
  • The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. 
  • The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
  • Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).

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Indians Notes: Payroll, Hafner, DH, Starting Rotation

The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:

  • Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. 
  • Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
  • The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
  • The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
  • With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.

ESPN On Ichiro, Indians, Adams

Here are some rumors from ESPN.com's baseball writers, starting with a note from Buster Olney (all links go to Twitter)…


Indians Seeking Four Prospects For Cabrera

There's arguably no better shortstop available via free agency or trade than Asdrubal Cabrera, and the Indians' asking price reflects that reality. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes that the Tribe is looking to get three-to-four prospects in exchange for their 27-year-old shortstop — preferably four.

Hoynes writes that the Indians had a deal in place to acquire a Major League pitcher and two high-level prospects for Cabrera. That trade fell through when Cleveland asked that a third prospect be included in the package. The potential acquiring team would have switched Cabrera's position, for those who would like to play the speculation game.

Cabrera has two years and a total of $16.5MM remaining on his contract. Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has batted .272/.335/.443 with 41 home runs and 26 stolen bases.

In addition to Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez and Shin-Soo Choo are drawing interest. The asking price on Perez is substantially lower than Cabrera's, one scout told Hoynes. Like Cabrera, Perez has two years of team control left. He's arbitration eligible for the third time as a Super Two player this offseason, and Matt Swartz has him projected at $7.2MM.

Hoynes notes that the Padres have called regarding both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Masterson can become a free agent after the 2014 season and is projected to earn $5.7MM in arbitration this season. The Indians picked up Jimenez's $5.75MM option this offseason despite a dreadful season and drastically reduced fastball velocity. The Padres are likely attracted to Jimenez's durability and hopeful that a return to the NL West can help restore his numbers.