Winter Meetings Recap: Indians listening on Masterson, Cabrera
Day two of the 2013 Winter Meetings is wrapping up. The news and rumors will surely continue into the night, and if anything of substance regarding the Indians has legs I will provide the update on Twitter @TonyIBI and in the newswire to the right. If anything more significant gains legs I will surely post it to the front page as well.
Masterson is going nowhere
Things in Indians land got worked up into a frenzy on Monday evening when it was reported that the Indians were “listening” to other teams about trade offers for right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson. From there, fans have taken to social media to display their disgust over such rumors.
But the Indians are just doing what they should be doing with regard to Masterson or any other player on their roster when a team comes calling. They are doing their due diligence and listening to what teams have to say. I’m sure the Indians have at some point this offseason fielded called from teams asking about Jason Kipnis, Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana, Cody Allen and others, and I am sure they have listened to what has been offered for them as well. There is no harm in that as teams do this all of the time with almost every player on their roster at some point.
General managers are always considering deals and gathering information, and they are able to do both by listening and shopping – though the difference between the two is very clear. Listening means teams are actively calling you about the availability of your player; shopping means you are calling other teams to gauge interest in your player.
While Masterson likely won’t be traded this offseason, he is a year away from free agency so they need to be open minded about a future without him beyond the 2014 season. That includes exploring a contract extension with him later this offseason, something which may begin to gain steam once the Indians offseason settles down a little more and they feel comfortable with their roster going into the season.
We will probably begin to hear such talk about contract negotiations in late January in advance of his arbitration deadline, and if nothing is reached then he simply signs a one year deal and talks continue through spring training. Momentum toward an extension would probably cease by mid-April if no deal is reached, and it would greatly increase the possibility he reaches free agency and tests the market next offseason.
Past history suggests any extension with Masterson would not be reached and announced until April. This is what happened with most recent extensions announced for Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana, and in the past for others like Jake Westbrook, C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez.
As to what it takes to resign him? My guess is a four or five year deal at around $15 million per ($60-75M) would be fair, but I am not sure the Indians would offer that or that Masterson would accept it. One thing is certain, is if he goes out and has a year on par with his average season over the past three years, he will command a lot more in free agency and might get a deal for more than $100 million.
Masterson is a perfect fit for the organization for so many reasons. He is not only a good pitcher and durable, but he is also a great teammate, a good leader, great in the community, the fans like him and he seems to like it in Cleveland. If they don’t extend him then I don’t see how they ever extend a starting pitcher. But then again, they have been gun shy to give starting pitchers more than three years in deals since they gave Charlie Nagy a four-year extension in 1998 and his arm went caput shortly into it and the same thing happened with Westbrook’s three year deal just five years ago.
For an extension to work it will take some give and take from both sides as the Indians will need to assume some risk and step outside of their comfort zone, and Masterson will need to sacrifice some money to get a fair deal and stay in a place that he (hopefully) likes. The wildcard in all of this is Francona. He has instilled a new belief to be aggressive and not be afraid to take risks, and we may see the Francona Effect come into play here and be what ultimately gets an extension done.
Bottom line, Masterson is going nowhere now, but there is no doubt his future beyond the 2014 season is very uncertain.
Rumors and Notes
- In addition to “listening” to offers for Justin Masterson, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports the Indians are also “listening” to offers for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Now, this is a little bit of a different scenario than Masterson as I believe this is a case where the Indians are more than just listening as they are probably also more active and interested in trading him if a good deal presents itself. Unlike Masterson, the Indians really have no plans to retain Cabrera beyond the 2014 season and will just let him go when he reaches free agency next offseason, so they may be proactive and try and trade him now to get something for him. Everyone recalls how they were very active on the trade front with him last offseason, so they probably will be this offseason as well. They have internal solutions at the position they could turn to if they trade him, though they would be a step down from Cabrera, even after a poor 2013 season. But the future at the position is Francisco Lindor and his arrival could occur sometime later in the 2014 season if all goes as hoped, so the Indians may only need a short term solution at shortstop with Mike Aviles or Jose Ramirez, or maybe pickup another utility player in free agency and sort of share the shortstop position and utility role with Aviles (Jamey Carroll?).
- I still believe that if the Indians are motivated to deal Cabrera they can get a solid return for him. The Indians got a solid return for Shin-Soo Choo last year when they dealt him in the final year of his contract, and although Cabrera is a step down from Choo, he might be able to fetch a major league pen arm similar to what the Indians got in the Choo trade with Bryan Shaw and also get an upper level starting pitching prospect maybe a step down in pedigree from Trevor Bauer. They probably would prefer to trade Cabrera for a major league starter, but if they could get a good major league pen arm with multiple years of control and a good starting pitching prospect in return for Cabrera, they should strongly consider it. As to what team matches up with the Indians, I still think the Mets are a possible fit; however, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, he says the Mets are not in on Cabrera. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports threw out a wild suggestion that Cabrera might be an option at third base for the Dodgers.
- Former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore is at the Winter Meetings making it known that he intends to play in 2014. After taking the 2013 season off to recharge the batteries and try and get his body completely healthy, he is actively pursuing opportunities to sign with a team with a chance at a major league job in 2014. He last played in 2011 so he will probably need to sign a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training with an April opt out, and it is in spring training where he will need to show clubs whether he can play or not. According to the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes, he says that Sizemore is not a match for the Indians, so it appears they have moved on from him.
- Free agent right-handed closer John Axford is getting some interest from the Indians. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian says the Indians have been in contact with him and have interest in signing him. Yesterday the Indians were tied toGrant Balfour and today Axford, and I expect before it is all said and done that they will be noted as having contacted just about every potential backend bullpen arm available in free agency. I’m not much of a fan of Axford as he reminds me a lot of Chris Perez, but he might be a nice fit if the price is right. It really looks like they are contacting everyone to show interest at the moment, and as all of these guys sign and the market leaves a select few scrambling for jobs, that is when they will jump in and strike and try to sign one to a very team friendly deal.
- According to ESPN’s Buster Olney he says free agent corner infielder Kevin Youkilis is gaining interest as a low cost corner infield solution for teams. While he did not specifically name the Indians as a suitor, I still think Youkilis could be an option later this offseason because of the Indians interest in him last offseason and the Francona connection. The Indians are committed to Lonnie Chisenhall at third base, but they may look for a suitable right-handed hitting third base option to complement him so they can sit him against lefties. Youkilis could also play some first base and designated hitter. He had a very bad season last year with the Yankees, so he might be available on a minor league deal, or a very low one year deal for $1 to $2 million, something which may be worth exploring.
- Hoynes also made mention of right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier as someone to keep an eye on. Now, of all the people to name, I don’t think Hoynes would just throw Guerrier’s name out unless he heard something about him. Guerrier would be someone who fills a middle relief role and potentially a more inexpensive alternative to resigningMatt Albers. If the Indians are in fact considering Guerrier or a pitcher of his ilk, I am not sure why as to me it would be an inappropriate use of money, even if just for $1 or $2 million for one year. The Indians have lots of right-handed relief depth that I think they should trust and use the spring and first month of the season to sort out. I’d rather throw that $1 or $2 million on a bat at a position they don’t have much help; not for the seventh or eighth guy in the pen where they have an abundance of options.
- There is talk that the Indians are in the market for a third catcher, but I think they are looking more for a guy on a minor league deal rather than someone to sign to a guaranteed major league deal and have to carry on the 25-man roster during the season. I think they want to have someone they can stash at Triple-A Columbus and be an option to fill in if Carlos Santana or Yan Gomes go down to injury. They have expressed a desire to resign recently non-tendered catcher Lou Marson to a minor league deal, but he is probably exploring his options and they are as well by looking at other alternatives.
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The Carroll thing to me would have to be secondary to a Cabrera or Aviles trade. Right now there is no spot on the roster to add Carroll. I know Jose Ramirez is hurt, but Carroll would not be looked at as a replacement for Ramirez as Ramirez was not even on the opening day roster to begin with. A Carroll signing - assuming it is a major league deal - would have to be in response to a Cabrera or Aviles trade. If it is Cabrera dealt, then Aviles/Carroll share shortstop and utility until Lindor is ready hopefully midseason. If it is Aviles that is dealt, then obviously Carroll slips into his spot.
The price for Shark and Price is extremely high. I'd imagine CA and company have set their mark pretty high as well, but Masterson is working on a one yr deal, the others are not. Thus, motivating the Indians to listen to offers. I'm starting to believe something could get done, in the next week or so.
In other news, the Indians are rumored to be in Jamey Carroll as a UTL.
Just throwing this name out there, but Justin Turner formerly of the Mets has experience at all the IF spots and LF, hit .280 last yr and hits RH. Turner was non-tendered a week or so ago.
I think he gets less than $3M, but there reports the Dbax offered 1 yr / $3M. For comparisons sake Chad Qualls got 2 yrs / $6 M.
Another name to consider on a short / cheap deal could be Chad Gaudin. Probably, not worth the time, but he was effective last yr.
Pirates could use a SS, but the Tribe might have to kick in some cash or take on some money to get a deal done.
As for Buster Olney's report the Dbax are pushing for a SP (Masterson). I'd trade them Masterson for Archie Bradley, Matt Davidson, and a cpl prospects. IF they are serious, I'd ask for Patrick Corbin, or Trevor Cahill, Matt Davidson and a prospect.
I could see a scenario where a deal comes together, but only IF the Tribe brings back a legit SP back and at least a bullpen arm. Otherwise, it's not worth it... Interesting the two clubs had a lot of discussions last yr, so there could be something there. At least they are familiar with one another.
The Tribe could push them to include one of Trevor Cahill or Patrick Corbin plus Chris Owings their highly touted SS and a prospect. The Tribe could then flip Owings for a young SP. Good chance nothing happens.
Can count on one hand the number of people that probably said we could get a pick for Ubaldo prior to the 2013 season. Cabrera is more than capable of putting up a season at worst like his 2012 season I think. Really only 2 big things changed for Asdrubal this year from the previous 2. BABIP dropped a good 20 points and K-rate went up a good amount. Can he cut the K's down and get a few more balls to drop in play? That's the big question...
Very good arguments can be made for both keeping and getting rid of Cabrera. Personally would rather move Bourn but if we're stuck with him...that $10M Asdrubal is making would be nice to be able to use on a pitcher...
Surprised Bourn's name has not surfaced yet...
I'd agree, ACab could probably net a cpl arms. Maybe they'll get a reliable LH and a nice SP prospect out of him. One thing to remember is, the Tribe kicked in $3M to move Choo last yr. Might see a similar scenario this yr as well. IF it means a better SP in return.
As for Justin Masterson, Seattle and Arizona seem motivated to make moves, maybe one or the other blows the Tribes socks off with a healthy deal. AZ might be out of the mkt for big trades after acq. Trumbo, but maybe they'd include a cpl big leaguers to get a deal done. It would certainly take a healthy return to get the Indians to move him.
In two days we've heard, the Indians are listening on both Masterson and ACab. Tomorrow should bring news they are listening on Bourn or Brantley, just saying always a lot of traffic this time of yr.