Indians starter Justin Masterson will file for salary arbitration on Tuesday in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility. Paul Hoynes of The Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians and Masterson will discuss a multi-year extension in the days leading up to the official filing of arbitration figures.
Masterson, who turns 29 years old in March, has been inconsistent throughout his career, but has shown plenty of promise. He finished 2013 with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings and notched three shut-outs, leading the American League. Matt Swartz’s arbitration model at MLB Trade Rumors projected Masterson to get between $9 and $10 million, and Tim Dierkes also of MLBTR suggests that an extension would cost the Indians between $13 and $17 million per season, likely over five years.
Since 2010, Masterson’s 57.1 percent ground ball rate ranks sixth in the Majors among qualified starters, trailing Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Jake Westbrook, Trevor Cahill, and Aaron Cook. As such, he benefits from having a solid infield defense. The Indians had one of the worst defenses in baseball in 2013, according to FanGraphs, and are returning the same cast of characters for the most part in 2014.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.