MARCH 30, 1:15pm: Zach Meisel of The Athletic provides the full breakdown. Stephen will make $1.35MM this year, $1.6MM next year, $2.3MM in 2025 and $3.5MM in 2026. There’s a $1.25MM buyout on the 2027 option.
MARCH 30, 7:08am: Robert Murray of FanSided reports that Stephan’s extension is worth $10MM, with a $7.25MM club option in 2027 and a $7.5MM club option in 2028.
MARCH 29: Cleveland and Stephan have agreed to a four-year guarantee with a pair of club options, reports Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. Finances remain unreported.
MARCH 28: The Guardians have already agreed to one extension today, and they’re making progress on a deal with right-handed reliever Trevor Stephan as well, reports Tom Withers of the Associated Press. Cleveland currently controls the 27-year-old Stephan for another four seasons. He’s not scheduled to reach arbitration until next offseason. The Athletic’s Zack Meisel reported earlier today that Cleveland was in “advanced” extension talks with multiple players.
One of the most successful Rule 5 picks in recent memory, Stephan emerged for the Guardians as a high-caliber setup option this past season when he tossed 63 2/3 innings of 2.69 ERA ball. That mark was backed up by a 2.19 FIP and 2.55 SIERA. The former Yankees farmhand punched out a hefty 30.7% of his opponents against a tidy 6.7% walk rate and induced grounders at an above-average 48.1% clip.
Drilling down even further, there’s far more to like about Stephan. His 16.2% swinging-strike rate was the 14th-best mark among the 273 pitchers who tossed at least 60 innings in 2022 (starters and relievers alike). He was also better than average in terms of opponents’ exit velocity (87.5 mph average) and hard-hit rate (34.4%), and his 3.1% opponents’ barrel rate was among the very best in all of baseball (98th percentile).
Stephan averaged just under 97 mph with his heater, missed bats, limited walks and hard contact and kept the ball both in the park (0.42 HR/9) and on the ground last year. Along the way, he picked up 19 holds and three saves. He’s now expected to be among the top setup options for All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase, and Stephan would perhaps be first in line for ninth-inning work in the event of an injury to Clase.
This one belongs to the Reds
These guys have the right idea.
I said the Reds should have locked Castillo up a couple years ago. Mahle too.
Of course, these are the same guys who signed Homer Bailey long term instead of Johnny Cueto.
Any teams not trying to do this need new ownership/front office. It’s nothing new. Braves weren’t first. Teams should have been doing this the last 20 30 years.
Both the Braves AND the INDIANS were locking up their young talent back in the early ’90’s and both organizations the Braves and the guardians are continuing to do it now. The Braves just have a more consistent record of doing it.
Has there been a team in need of pitching like the Yankees who gave up on multiple arms who signed long term deals after being selected via a Rule 5 draft? I don’t mean to pick on the Yankees but they’d love to have Stephan and Whitlock back.
Why would the Yankees need any of these cheap quality young pitchers when they can simply trade multiple draft picks for studs like Sonny Gray and his “brother from another mother” Frankie Montas?
Cleveland was doing this in early 90s apart of the “John Hart” model.
This is one area where, up until Nico Hoerner’s extension, the Cubs have failed to keep their homegrown talent. So yes I agree with you.
The Cubs actually did this with Rizzo and Hendricks.
Of that group, which players do you wish they would have extended? Schwarber is the only that is playing at the level or above how well he played with the Cubs. Bryant is made of glass, Rizzo has power but can’t hit for average anymore – shift rules might help him, Baez stinks, Contreras is a good bat, but not a good defensive catcher.
Even if the Cubs still had all of those guys today, they would have a $300m payroll and no pitching. I’m glad they let them all go. I just wish they would have traded them in 2018-2019.
Of the bunch I would have liked Rizzo, he and Hendriks, which I forgot that they did extend, would have been my preferred choice to stick around. Rizzo still has something left in the tank, but everyone else makes sense. I guess it’s just my nostalgia blinding me.
Your Tom Withers link is to an article about Andrés Gimenez.
It mentions the Stephan extension as well, which was the source for this article..
Extending a reliever with four more years of control? Who won’t be too expensive in arb without saves?
It is a bit surprising. Have to see the final numbers, but most relievers have short peaks.
I had the same thought, but Cleveland must have great confidence that Stephan will keep it up.
The best rule five draft pick in Cleveland history?
Tito absolutely values bullpen arms more then most. See Andrew Miller in their WS run a couple years ago. Shaw and Allen in that run are another example of such.
Given that they never get as many days off between appearances, throw harder generally (max effort) and that most of them had questionmarks because they were failed starters, it makes sense that they have short peaks. I agree it likely not smart to extend him unless they believe he is the next Kimbrel/Jansen/etc
@Lord99 Has to be a starter conversion. The Yankees used him that way in the minors.
A known cost helps the Guardians plan for future years.
Perhaps they want to convert him back to a starter. He was rule 5 right? So they had to stick him in pen
He was pretty terrific in the bullpen last year. I’m not saying it is impossible that they might convert him back to a starter, but you have to have a dominant bullpen to win and I think they see Stephan as a cornerstone of that bullpen.
That, and they have a ton of talent nearly ready at AAA to take the bump.
Absolutely extend a elite reliever arm for the right price. Cleveland is one of the best so it should be the right price.
Clase getting moved for a “haul” sooner than later..
No he has 6 more years of control
Clase is a core player at this point.
This move likely has no relevance to Clase.
This appears to be a ‘sweetheart’ deal for Cleveland. I’m surprised how low the 2nd year of this deal is. It only jumps from $1.3M to $1.6M. Sure, the Guardians are taking a risk here on a RP with one good season on his resume so far, but with the way relievers are getting valued these days, it feels like he could have made more via arbitration had he decided to go that route. He would have been arbitration eligible in 2024. With that said, I understand the decision by Stephan to lock in life changing money. If he goes down with an injury or if he regresses a bit this season, he could have been DFA’d or offered much less money than what’s in this deal. I still feel like Cleveland made out very well in this deal.
It’s one of those deals that’s either so obvious great or awful it doesn’t need to be discussed. Anyone arguing about it is a troll or clueless.
Cleveland front office is quite busy this morning. A lot of excitement for Guardian fans.
It feels amazing to know that our best players (or most of them) will stay with us for a while. Is signing Bieber a pipe dream? THAT would really keep our window of contention open for a while….but it might cost us on the back end of the deal.
Extend him for a fair price or trade him. Either way is a win.
I don’t see both sides coming together on an extension. Bieber knows he’ll get top dollar on the market, and CLE never pays top dollar for anyone. They’ll probably trade him in his walk year and end up getting the next crop of stars in that deal. That’s how the FO rolls, and it works like a charm every time.
Yes, I know, but a guy can dream.
I’m just concerned about McKinley’s injury. We need to have some starters who roll over to the next window of opportunity. I’m excited about Williams and Bibee. If McKinley is able to recover at his previous ability then we should be ok but there is zero guarantee of that. We need someone to become as good as Bieber and that is a tall order.
I think most intelligent people would want the extension. Especially if they are a mlb starting pitcher. A lot more risk for the team as well. A TJ and you could lose a pitcher for 2 post seasons and not get their peak performance a 3rd. If the discount makes up enough for the risk and potential prospect return sure. I would lean towards Solaris and say no extension. But it’s just a guess going off what I said and you never know.
Who is Mckinley? Did you mean McKenzie?
Is signing Bieber a pipe dream?
A year ago, I’d have LOL’d and told you to stay in your lane.
But y’all are hitting on all cylinders. So I think it’s still a pipe dream, but I’d no longer be shocked.
C Yards Jeff
Best Rule 5 draftee in club history? Who knows. That said; a big hoss with big arm, younger, small injury footprint. Yep, extend him. Bigger question. Who kept him off the Yankees 40?
deGrom Texas Ranger
Different clubs, but Johan Santana, David Ortiz, Darren O’Day, and Adolis Garcia were some notable Rule 5 picks
Guys like David Hale and Luis Avilan. Cashman loves having depth consistently of consistent but mediocre journeymen in the pen.
@C Yards Jeff The best trade chip in all of baseball Miguel Andujar!
Cash lost Whitlock and Stephan to the rule 5…..tough
C Yards Jeff
Smart with Gimenez, not so sure with this one. Relievers are too volatile for pre-arbitration extensions in my opinion.
I would agree that relievers are volatile, but… I sat with the trackman operator for a spring game this year and Stephan was routinely at 2700 rpm on his fastball, which is excellent. Depending on your belief in math geek baseball, which Cleveland definitely utilizes, this might be a steal, and just the beginning of a dominant run for TS.
In nurse follars
Let’s wait for the total contract value to be announced. Somewhere between 6 and 8 million?
In nurse follars
$10 million? I guess a million isn’t worth as much as it once did.
Joe It All
I will never question Cleveland when it comes to locking up a player long term. They consistently get more value out of the dollars they spend than pretty much the rest of the league. It’s one of the things that keeps them competitive over the long haul. Everybody thinks of Oakland when they hear the term moneyball but Cleveland has perfected the strategy and expanded on it.
They’re my second favourite team. Such a well run organization in spite of such a cheap owner.
Just goes to show you how stupid that the Yankees really are.
Or loaded. No one hates the Yankees more than I do, but they’ve done well with their farm.
Two big things happened for Stephan with Cleveland. One is that he was moved to a relief position – he might have been moved there anyway as his last season with the Yankees saw him develop control issues. But Stephan was always a spin rate darling with good velocity on the heater – so a bullpen role made sense because his breaking pitch was only really average.
What made the biggest difference was him learning a split change. He learned it primarily from veteran Blake Parker who was only with Cleveland briefly, but also with help from Bryan Shaw. That pitch, learned toward the end of his rookie/Rule V year, saw him transition from “guy at the end of the bullpen only pitching in blowouts” to “guy who is trusted in the 7th/8th with a tight lead”. Also it made him less of a FB/Slider guy, which means he’s less prone to platoon splits. That actually makes him an excellent late inning weapon because it takes away a lot of the utility of pinch hitting.
Weirdly, him now having a really effective third pitch kind of makes him an interesting candidate to try as a starter, but they elected not to do it in 2022 even after all the Rule V restrictions were gone. At this point he’s staying there in the pen.
deGrom Texas Ranger
I usually think players are overpaid, and yet I give this deal an A++. Texas should do Brock Burke or Jonathan Hernández at this rate, if possible. Even if the guy doesn’t turn out to be much, not much $ is being risked here.
15 HR in 63 inngs? Dude gets lit up! Na jk he good.