Indians and Justin Masterson will discuss a multi-year contract extension before arbitration

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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.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.