(GOODYEAR, Ariz.) – Despite making it clear over the last couple of weeks that he’d be willing to stay with the Cleveland Indians on a shorter-term deal, contract negotiations have broken off between Justin Masterson and the Tribe.
Reports of the negotiations surfaced on Thursday evening, the Indians lone off-day of spring training.
Masterson made it clear that he, along with agent Randy Rowley were going back-and-forth with the Indians front office with different contract proposals over the last several weeks but were unable to reach an agreement.
The Indians were not immediately available for comment on Thursday evening.
Back in February the Indians and Masterson avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year contract worth $9,726,500, however once Masterson made it clear that he would stay with the club on a shorter-term deal an extension appeared imminent.
Masterson, 29, will be a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. The right-hander will open the year as Cleveland’s ace at the top of the rotation and is scheduled to be the club’s Opening Day starter in Oakland when the Indians begin a three-game series with the Athletics on March 31.
A week ago a source confirmed that the Indians were hesitant to give Masterson $15 million a year in a multi-year contract. Reports that surfaced on Thursday evening mentioned that the Tribe was believed to have been offering $12 million to $13 million a year.
Masterson was looking for a two or three-year deal worth about $17 million per year according to reports.
This recent negotiation break-off does not bode well for a possible contract extension with Masterson, however it does not necessarily mean the right-hander will not be back with Cleveland next year. Circumstances could always change prior to the season getting started or even once it begins.
With comparable numbers to Cincinnati Reds right-hander Homer Bailey, it is believed Masterson could be in line to sign a similar free agent contract; Bailey signed a six-year deal worth $105 million.
By season’s end the Indians could still lock up Masterson to a contract extension, but Thursday’s new developments make it a little harder to believe that may in fact end up being the case.
- Nick Camino