Justin Masterson avoided arbitration with the Indians last week by agreeing to a one-year, $9.7625 million contract, but today he told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the two sides remain in touch about a possible contract extension.
Masterson has the ability to become a free agent after this season, but he expressed optimism about sticking around for the long-term by saying, “I figure somehow, someway I end up still being here for a few more years.” It’s believed that the Indians have made an offer in the range of three or four years while Masterson’s agent, Randy Rowley, has submitted a counteroffer. Masterson is hoping for some sort of resolution before the start of the regular season.
“There’s nothing monumental,” said Masterson, “but we have talked a little bit. I would imagine if something gets done it would be before the season begins. That’s probably where we’re at.”
Masterson turns 29 in March and owns a 4.08 ERA over 135 starts and 10 relief appearances since coming over from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade in 2009. He posted a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio in 193 innings last year. His 24.3 percent strikeout rate was the best of his career and 13th-highest among qualified starters. It will be interesting to see what he commands in an extension, as Hoynes makes an argument that he is comparable to Homer Bailey, who recently inked a six-year, $105 million extension with the Reds.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.