On Thursday, it was reported that the Indians and starter Justin Masterson hit an impasse on negotiations for a contract extension. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports heard that Masterson was asking for a three-year deal below Homer Bailey’s $17.5 million average annual value (thus, less than $52.5 million total). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports heard that the Indians countered with a two-year deal that included a third-year option worth approximately $14 million.
Masterson took the hill on Friday afternoon against the Rockies as a player inexorably headed towards free agency after the season. Or so we thought. After contributing to the team’s 14-3 victory, Masterson said regarding extension talks, “It’s just for right now. There’s still time. The season doesn’t end hopefully until the World Series is over.” The quote comes from MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian.
So, maybe there is hope after all. Masterson, who will start on Opening Day as the undeniable ace of the pitching staff, represents the Indians more than anyone else on their roster and keeping him around shows their fan base that the front office is committed to putting together a competitive roster. Further, the Indians are ill-equipped to handle replacing Masterson and would likely have to go out onto the free agent market and spend more money replacing Masterson than they would by retaining him with a contract extension.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.
The Pirates shut out the Reds 4-0 on Sunday, clinching the first NL Wild Card slot, which means they will host the Cubs in the Wild Card game. The winner will travel to St. Louis to play the Cardinals in the NLDS on October 9. The Pirates end the season with a 98-64 record, their best record since 1991 when they also finished 98-64.
Starter J.A. Happ pitched six shutout innings, limiting the Reds to three hits and three walks while striking out seven. Relievers Joakim Soria, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon each pitched a scoreless inning behind Happ to finish out the game.
Neil Walker provided the Pirates’ first run with an RBI single in the first inning. Pedro Alvarez ripped a solo homer in the fourth, Jordy Mercer doubled in a run in the sixth, and Josh Harrison hit an RBI double in the seventh to account for all of the offense.
The Cubs beat the Brewers 3-1 on Sunday to finish with a 97-65 record. They’re in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.