In a relatively surprising twist, it appears that the short-term extension being rumored between the Cleveland Indians and pitcher Justin Masterson -- believed to be three-to-four years for $40-60 million dollars -- was proposed by the player and not the organization as would be assumed, according to a report by Cleveland.com on Tuesday.
The deal, which would provide Masterson with long-term security, comes after the pitcher signed a $9.8 million dollar deal to avoid arbitration this season. And weeks after the neighboring Cincinnati Reds gave Homer Bailey a 6-year, $105-million dollar deal for putting up stats comparable to Masterson. But, after the Indians made it clear they wouldn't be signing the Jamaican-born righthander to a comparable deal to Bailey's it appeared the chances for an extension were dead.
However, it appears that the desire for lifelong financial security have put him in the position to be accept a deal that may be under market value in exchange for the certainty of three-to-four years of guaranteed money. Given Masterson's inconsistent track record it's hard to blame him: the difference between a 3-4.0 WAR pitcher -- where he was in 2013 and 2011 -- and a .3 WAR pitcher -- where he was in 2012 -- in terms of open market value is considerable. And while he may be just entering somewhere near his prime, concerns over the same issues regarding draft pick compensation and signability also likely played a role in him offering to take what could be called a pay cut, at least for someone with the potential for a $100 million dollar contract.
The Indians are likely very happy about what would amount to a "hometown discount", with general manager Chris Antonetti telling reporters, "We want Justin here. I think we've been very consistent with that. We have a great appreciation for what Justin brings to our team, our clubhouse and our community."
And the feeling appears to be mutual for the two. Masterson has been very open about his excitement regarding the prospect of playing for one of the most well-liked managers in the game in Terry Francona and an organization that has made major strides in its rebuilding process with a wild card berth last season. In fact, he told reporters, "I figure somehow, someway I'll end up still being here for a few more years."
If he keeps offering them such sizable discounts on his market value, he may be saying that for a long, long time.