Justin Masterson Rumors

Rosenthal On Farrell, Indians, Nationals

The Blue Jays shouldn’t part with manager John Farrell unless they are confident they can hire a comparable replacement and make the Red Sox pay dearly for their former pitching coach, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays could start by asking for Clay Buchholz again, Rosenthal suggests. Here’s more from around MLB, starting with Farrell...

  • People who know Farrell find it difficult to believe he’d try to force his way out of Toronto, Rosenthal reports. The Blue Jays appear to value Farrell and don’t want to see him leave.
  • Most MLB teams wanted to develop Jurickson Profar as a pitcher when he was an amateur player, Rosenthal reports. The Rangers built a relationship with Profar, who wanted to play shortstop.
  • Scouts following the Indians like the team’s up-the-middle talent, but say the body language of manager Manny Acta suggests he’s resigned to losing. The Indians are expected to consider trade offers for Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez this offseason and rival teams wonder if they’d listen to offers for Asdrubal Cabrera.
  • Indians officials are “livid” with Perez for his comments about the team’s ownership and top baseball executives, Rosenthal writes. Perez questioned the Indians’ decision making and spending last week in an interview with Jon Paul Morosi. Some executives viewed those remarks as an attempt to get traded, Rosenthal reports.
  • One Orioles person points out that Andy MacPhail traded for many of the Orioles’ key players in a series of successful deals. MacPhail dealt for players such as J.J. Hardy, Pedro Strop, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Robert Andino and Adam Jones before stepping down following the 2011 season.
  • Though the Nationals would like to retain Adam LaRoche, they can rely on internal options if the first baseman’s asking price reaches the three-year, $33-36MM range. Similarly, the Nationals might decide not to pursue Michael Bourn despite the long-standing expectation that they will offer him a competitive free agent contract.
  • The Brewers will need to sign a starting pitcher and fix their bullpen this coming offseason, Rosenthal writes.

Quick Hits: Indians, Lee, Phillies, Pirates

Links from around MLB, on the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline...

Red Sox Notes: Saltalamacchia, Masterson, Ellsbury

The Red Sox have a 51-51 record after taking two of three from the Yankees in New York over the weekend. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the Red Sox as they host the Tigers at Fenway Park...

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles have drawn interest from rival teams, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. The Red Sox are looking to add at the trade deadline, but a modest deal is more likely than a blockbuster.
  • The Red Sox remain interested in Justin Masterson, even though they saw him struggle in his most recent start, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Indians have told teams they will consider trading Masterson, who pitched for the Red Sox in 2008-09.
  • A few teams inquired on Jacoby Ellsbury, but the Red Sox will likely wait until the offseason to seriously consider trading him, Cafardo reports (on Twitter). The Reds asked about Ellsbury, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have pursued Red Sox players more aggressively than other teams, Cafardo reports (Twitterlinks). Texas has scouted both Aaron Cook and Kelly Shoppach and while Rangers officials have backed off on Cook, they maintain interest in Shoppach.
  • Here’s the latest on Josh Beckett.

Indians Could Trade Masterson, Likely To Keep Perez

After being swept by the Twins this weekend and falling to two games below .500, the Indians have told teams they may be open to trading Justin Masterson, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.

Masterson, the Tribe's opening day starter, earns $3.825MM in 2012 after avoiding arbitration this past offseason. Masterson is controlled through the 2014 season and has pitched to a 4.47 ERA with a 6.9 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 56.4 percent ground-ball rate that is tied for sixth-best in the Majors. Masterson's control has taken a significant downturn this season, as evidenced by the rising walk rate (2.7 BB/9 in 2011) and his AL-worst 11 wild pitches.

Knobler reports that both the Reds and Rangers had scouts present to watch Masterson's start against the Twins in Minneapolis yesterday, though he wasn't particularly impressive. He allowed eight earned runs to the Twins over 5 2/3 innings on seven hits, two walks a and a hit batter.

The Indians are also open to trading Shin-Soo Choo for the right price, and both the Pirates and Reds appear to be interested at the moment. There have been rumors over the past few weeks that they could deal Chris Perez as well, but Knobler calls it "doubtful" that Perez will be traded.

Extension Notes: Masterson, Kinsler, Santana

Ian Kinsler (five years, $75MM), Carlos Santana (five years, $21MM) and Brandon Phillips (six years, $72.5MM) are the latest star players to sign long-term extensions. Here's more extension chatter from around MLB...

  • The Indians have spoken to the representatives for Justin Masterson about an extension, but the sides appear to remain far apart, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Talks seem to be on hold for the time being. Tim Dierkes suggested in January that a four-year deal in the $27MM range could work for the Indians and the Randy Rowley client.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs shows that the aging curve for second basemen is pretty steep, but says the Kinsler contract was a deal worth doing for the Rangers.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the year-to-year breakdown for Santana's deal (on Twitter).
  • Mike Axisa explains that the Santana extension doesn't provide the Indians with a substantial discount in a piece at FanGraphs. However, the Indians did extend their control over the catcher.

Indians Avoid Arbitration With Masterson, Perez

The Indians avoided arbitration with pitchers Justin Masterson ($3.825MM) and Chris Perez ($4.5MM), tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  For the Indians, Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez remain.

Extension Candidate: Justin Masterson

The Indians have extended starting pitchers C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee, and Fausto Carmona in the last decade, in most cases getting cost savings and extra free agent years in the process.  Fresh off a breakout season, could 26-year-old Indians righty Justin Masterson be next?


Masterson's 2011 season featured career-bests in innings (216), ERA (3.21), walk rate (2.7 per nine), home run rate (0.46 per nine) and wins (12).  His always-strong groundball rate held up, and his 6.6 K/9 was acceptable.  The knock on Masterson has always been his difficulty retiring left-handed batters.  Though he wasn't able to put them away with strikeouts, Masterson limited his walks against left-handed batters and posted a 3.88 xFIP against them.  In general, he might not be able to maintain 2011's 6.3% home run per flyball rate, but Masterson still remains capable of a sub-4.00 ERA.

Masterson has three years and 108 days of Major League service, so he's arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.  Matt Swartz's projections call for a $3.6MM salary in 2012.  Masterson's arbitration case may be tied to the fates of other first-time starters such as Jeff Niemann, Max Scherzer, and Matt Harrison this year, among others.

In recent times, extensions for pitchers with three to four years of service have been rare.  Perhaps once a player is on the cusp of his first big payday through arbitration, he prefers to see that through for at least one year.  If an extension is preferable to Masterson, his agent Randy Rowley could look to Johnny Cueto's contract, signed a year ago with the Reds.  At an even three years, Cueto had less service time than Masterson, one reason Masterson bests Cueto by 82 2/3 innings.  Cueto still managed four more wins, but they're otherwise comparable, with the career and platform year ERA edge going to Masterson.  The numbers converge further if we only look at Masterson's 87 career starts.

Cueto signed a four-year, $27MM deal.  He received $16.2MM for his three arbitration years and $10MM for his first free agent year, with a club option at the same price for another.  The same contract would be a reasonable target for Masterson, perhaps with a few hundred thousand tacked on so he could top Cueto.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

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