Indians, Justin Masterson will discuss multi-year deal

Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

The right-hander is in his final year of arbitration and is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

The Cleveland Indians will explore the possibility of a multi-year contract with pitcher Justin Masterson, according to Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Masterson, who turns 29 in March, is in his final year of arbitration and can become a free agent after the upcoming season. The two sides could simply agree to a one-year deal for 2014, but Hoynes noted in December that there is mutual interest in a long-term partnership. Signing the right-hander now would be beneficial to Cleveland because the team would not have to bid against other suitors, and because prices on the free agent market have risen steadily in recent years and could be even higher next winter.

More on Cleveland's pursuit for starting pitching: Visit Let's Go Tribe

Masterson was the Indians' top starting pitcher in 2013. He posted a 14-10 record with a 3.45 ERA (109 ERA+) and struck out more than a batter per inning, which was a surprise coming from a guy who entered the year with a career rate of 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings. The Tribe has already lost Scott Kazmir to free agency and Ubaldo Jimenez may follow him out the door, so keeping Masterson would be the easiest way to maintain stability at the top of the rotation for the near future. With that being said, the team has expressed interest in Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka, so they appear willing to look outside of the organization for reinforcements to go along with their current staff of Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister.

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