Justin Masterson avoided arbitration with the Indians last week by agreeing to a one-year, $9.7625 million contract, but today he told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the two sides remain in touch about a possible contract extension.
Masterson has the ability to become a free agent after this season, but he expressed optimism about sticking around for the long-term by saying, “I figure somehow, someway I end up still being here for a few more years.” It’s believed that the Indians have made an offer in the range of three or four years while Masterson’s agent, Randy Rowley, has submitted a counteroffer. Masterson is hoping for some sort of resolution before the start of the regular season.
“There’s nothing monumental,” said Masterson, “but we have talked a little bit. I would imagine if something gets done it would be before the season begins. That’s probably where we’re at.”
Masterson turns 29 in March and owns a 4.08 ERA over 135 starts and 10 relief appearances since coming over from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade in 2009. He posted a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio in 193 innings last year. His 24.3 percent strikeout rate was the best of his career and 13th-highest among qualified starters. It will be interesting to see what he commands in an extension, as Hoynes makes an argument that he is comparable to Homer Bailey, who recently inked a six-year, $105 million extension with the Reds.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.