Indians, Justin Masterson table extension talks, now focusing on one-year deal

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According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians and right-hander Justin Masterson have put extension talks on hold and are now focusing on a one-year deal in advance of an arbitration hearing on February 20.

Masterson, who is due to hit free agency next offseason, requested $11.8 million and was offered $8.05 million by the Indians when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month. Both sides have said that they are open to a multi-year deal, but Hoynes hears that “little, if any” progress has been made. Putting aside the issue of an extension, the $3.75 million gap between Masterson and the Indians is the largest among any unsigned player who filed for arbitration, so they’ll have to make a lot of progress to even avoid a hearing.

Masterson posted a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio over 193 innings last season. He turns 29 in March, so another solid year would put him in position for a lucrative contract next winter.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.