Indians put long-term negotiations with pitcher Justin Masterson on hold

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – The Cleveland Indians and All-Star starter Justin Masterson are now focused on reaching a one-year deal through the arbitration process.

This came after the Indians temporarily put on hold negotiations for a long-term deal with Masterson, who is asking for $11.8 million this season while Cleveland countered with an offer of $8.05 million.

The $3.75 million gap in proposals represents the largest difference among arbitration-eligible players who exchanged numbers with their team. The arbitration hearing is set on Feb. 20 in St. Petersburg.

Masterson, who earned $5,687,500 last season, went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 2013, piling up 195 strikeouts in 193 innings to help the Indians capture the American League’s top Wild Card spot.

The right-hander was on pace for a third consecutive season with at least 200 innings logged until an oblique injury sidelined him for most of September. Over the final week of the season, Masterson served as a late-inning pitcher for the Tribe.

Masterson is 44-55 with a 4.08 ERA in parts of five seasons with the Indians, but he has gone 37-35 with a 3.86 ERA and an average of 171 strikeouts and 205 innings across the past three years. The 28-year-old sinkerballer made his first All-Star team last summer.

Indians manager Terry Francona addressed Masterson’s situation during Friday’s Town Hall event for season-ticket holders.

“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” Francona said of signing Masterson to an extension. “He’s on the brink of going to free agency. Did you see what Clayton Kershaw just signed for [with the Dodgers]? Those [deals] affect everything.”

Aside from Masterson, the Indians also have unsettled arbitration cases involving left fielder Michael Brantley ($3.8 million requested against $2.7 million offered), reliever Vinnie Pestano ($1,145,000 requested against $975,000 offered) and starter Josh Tomlin ($975,000 requested against $800,000 offered).

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