The 29-year-old Wittgren was making his second of three trips through the arbitration process this winter. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Wittgren to earn between $1.4MM-$2.2MM after the righty earned $1.125MM last offseason in another arb-avoiding deal.
Acquired in something of a steal of a trade from the Marlins in February 2019, Wittgren built off the promise he showed in Miami to become a key part of the Cleveland bullpen. Over 80 games and 81 1/3 innings with the Tribe, Wittgren has a 2.99 ERA, 4.19 K/BB rate, and 9.7 K/9. ERA predictors haven’t been quite as impressed (4.24 FIP, 4.02 xFIP, 3.56 SIERA) since Wittgren has gotten some good luck in the form of an 84% strand rate and a .254 BABIP, and Statcast also doesn’t love many of his peripheral numbers. Wittgren is also a bit homer-prone, though he does do a good job of limiting walks.
The Tribe has been comfortable using Wittgren as a setup man, and it seems likely that he’ll continue in that role in 2021, albeit in front of a new closer now that Brad Hand was cut loose. James Karinchak or Emmanuel Clase could be tabbed as the top ninth-inning options, and it’s possible Wittgren might also pick up the stray save opportunity.