After more than a month of negotiating, the Indians and Justin Masterson have reportedly cut off talks of an extension with the team. Everyone’s first thought must be, “Gee, Masterson sure must’ve been asking for a lot of money if the Indians wouldn’t pay their best pitcher.” If you were thinking that, you were wrong.
After Homer Bailey accepted a 6 year, $105 million extension with the Reds in the off-season, most people around and inside the Indians organization expected Masterson and his agent to request something in the vicinity of that deal.
Bailey, 27, posted a record of 11-12 with an ERA of 3.49 in the 2013 season. A somewhat respectable number, but in all reality probably not worth the money that the Reds paid him.
Compare those numbers to Masterson, 28, who posted a 14-10 record and an ERA of 3.45 in 2013. Masterson also allowed almost 30 fewer hits, 10 fewer runs, and seven less home runs than Bailey. So, most people would think that Masterson and his agent would demand more than Bailey.
Reports from Ken Rosenthal, among others, said that Masterson was looking for a 3 year deal that would average out to around $17.5 million per year.
After a long 4-6 weeks, the Indians cut talks off with Masterson.
The question that should be on everyone’s minds is why? Why would you not sign your ace if you’re a legitimate playoff contender? Why would you not throw some money to your best pitcher, leader of the starting rotation, and opening day starter?
The answer is simple. This is the way that the Indians do business.
We’ve seen it in the past, a long list of hometown warriors that have gone from fan favorites, to bitter enemies just because the Indians front office wouldn’t pay the big bucks to save them.
A few names come to mind. All the way from Manny Ramirez, to Jim Thome, to C.C. Sabathia, to Cliff Lee, and now, to Masterson. The front office may blame it on the “small market team” identity, like always. But the Indians have gone leaps and bounds to spend more money, upping their team salary by almost $30 million since 2011.
Signings like Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, extending Michael Brantley, David Murphy, etc. The Indians have been spending money and making good moves with their money, so what’s the hold up with Masterson?
There’s no doubt that Masterson will walk in free agency and will command more attention and most likely more money with multiple teams chasing him.
That isn’t saying that the Tribe may not re-visit negotiations with Masterson, but I can’t see him offering any flexibility after offering what some would consider a hometown discount.
Masterson will soon join the list of former greats to wear the Wahoo…err, the block C.
Mark Shapiro and Larry Dolan have some explaining to do, and we’ll all be waiting.
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