UPDATE: The deal is done. According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Brantley will make $25 million over four years while the contract includes an $11 million option for 2018.
8:13 p.m. ET: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians and outfielder Michael Brantley are close to agreeing on a long-term contract extension. It’s believed to be a four-year deal with an option for a fifth season.
Contract talks have evidently accelerated since Brantley and the Indians exchanged arbitration figures last month. The 26-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so a four-year deal with an option would buy out at least one year of free agency.
Brantley has established himself as a solid regular in the Indians’ lineup over the past two seasons, compiling a .286/.340/.399 batting line. He posted new career-highs in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases last year.
Part of the reason the Cleveland Indians could trade away a pitcher like Trevor Bauer in the middle of a playoff race is because they have reinforcements on the way. The primary reinforcement is Corey Kluber, who has been out since May 1 with a broken arm. Based on what happened yesterday it’s possible that the Tribe will have to wait a bit longer for that particular reinforcement to arrive.
Kluber was the starter in yesterday’s game between Triple-A Columbus and Charlotte. He managed only one inning, however, walking two and not allowing a run before being lifted due to abdominal tightness. It was said that he was removed for precautionary reasons, so it may not be an injury as opposed to everyone simply being spooked. He’ll be reevaluated today.
It’s unclear whether this will delay his return to the Indians, though it obviously isn’t a good development. As it stood before yesterday, Cleveland had hoped Kluber could make big league starts in September and be ready for the postseason.