What are the Indians thinking with Justin Masterson?

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The word was that Justin Masterson was asking for a three-year deal valued at less than the $17.5 million Homer Bailey received. What’s more, that he was willing to take a 2-3 year contract too. Which, for a front-line starter, is insanely reasonable. But, as reported last night, the Indians weren’t willing to go that high and broke off negotiations with Masterson. He’ll likely hit free agency at the end of the season.

A few moments ago Indians GM Chris Antonetti spoke. He said the door is open to restart negotiations, but given that it’s believed the Indians made Masterson a two-year offer of only about $25 million, there’s not much of a reason for him to listen to them now. He’s making nearly $10 million this year alone on an arbitration-avoiding deal. Masterson is coming off a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio over 193 innings last season. He has pitched 180 or more innings for each of the past four years. Homer Bailey is a year younger and has had similar numbers to Masterson. He just got a six-year deal at the average annual salary Masterson was seeking from the Indians on a two or three year deal. How is that too rich?

If Masterson has even an average season, he’s going to make far, far more than a $12-13 million average annual salary. And there is no way the Indians will be able to replace his production at anywhere close to the price they just rejected.