Justin Masterson is still building back arm strength after missing time with an oblique injury late in the season and Chris Perez pitched his way out of the closer job with a brutal final month, so Mark Emery of MLB.com wonders if the Indians could end up giving Masterson a look in the ninth inning.
For now manager Terry Francona is simply saying he’ll use a closer-by-committee approach, but Masterson looked good in some late-September relief outings and has plenty of bullpen experience from his days with the Red Sox. Francona called having him available out of the bullpen “quite a weapon” and “we plan to use it.”
Masterson was Cleveland’s Opening Day starter and was on the verge of his third consecutive 200-inning season before the injury. He still ended up leading the Indians with 193 innings, posting a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio while allowing just 13 home runs. If the Indians make it deep into the playoffs moving him back into the rotation could be an option, but in the meantime he seems destined to get some high-leverage relief work.
Francys Romero reports that, according to his sources, Dodgers pitcher David Price will pay $1,000 out of his own money to each Dodgers minor leaguer who is not on the 40-man roster during the month of June.
That’s a pretty amazing gesture from Price. It’s also extraordinarily telling that such a gesture is even necessary.
Under a March agreement with Major League Baseball, minor leaguers have been receiving financial assistance that is set to expire at the end of May. Baseball America reported earlier this week that the Dodgers will continue to pay their minor leaguers $400 per week past May 31, but it is unclear how long such payments would go. Even if one were to assume that the payments will continue throughout the month of June, however, it’s worth noting that $400 a week is not a substantial amount of money for players to live on, on which to support families, and on which to train and remain ready to play baseball if and when they are asked to return.
Price’s generosity should be lauded here, but this should not be considered a feel-good story overall. Major League Baseball, which has always woefully underpaid its minor leaguers has left them in a vulnerable position once again.