Justin Masterson, Indians avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

Justin Masterson and the Indians have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

The Cleveland Indians have agreed to a one-year deal with starting pitcher Justin Mastersonaccording to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

Masterson's contract will pay him $9.76 million for the 2014 season, as the Indians have avoided arbitration with their best starting pitcher. The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday, but Masterson remained hopeful in recent days that he and the Indians could settle on a deal before the hearing.

"We're seeing if it's possible if we can make something happen before we leave [for the hearing]," the right-hander told the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes on Monday. "We're trying to see if we're being too stubborn or not. We're trying to be smart and reasonable."

Masterson's side filed at $11.8 million for the 2014 season, while the Indians countered with an $8.05 million offer. The 28-year-old made $5.75 million last year and is heading into his third year of arbitration, meaning he will be eligible for free agency following the upcoming season.

The six-year MLB veteran is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He went 14-10 for the Indians in 2013 with a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 193.0 innings. Masterson's strong 2013 came after a 2012 campaign in which he struggled, posting a 4.93 ERA over 206.1 innings. He has been a durable starter for Cleveland, throwing at least 180 innings every year since joining the club midseason back in 2009.

Given his status as a free agent in 2015, there have been whispers throughout the offseason that the two sides might agree to a long-term extension or perhaps trade the 28-year-old so they can net something in return. Now that Masterson has agreed to this deal, many of those talks will be put to bed for the time being.

The 6'6 Masterson is the club's best starter, having taken the hill for the Indians on Opening Day in 2013. Although his home beyond this season remains up in the air, Masterson and the Indians have settled on a contract before Thursday's potential hearing.

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