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.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.