Indians, Justin Masterson halt contract talks

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Contract talks between the Cleveland Indians and All-Star starter Justin Masterson have been halted to focus on preparation for the upcoming season, according to the pitcher’s agent Randy Rowley.

Rowley said Masterson’s camp presented Cleveland with financial parameters for a possible three- or four-year deal roughly two weeks ago.

However, Rowley said the Indians indicated that they are unable to align with Masterson’s proposals at this time.

Multiple media reports have it that Masterson has been asking for a $17 million annual salary from the Indians, who came back with a two-year proposal that included a team option for a third year.

“We tried to be flexible in years and sensitive to the market,” Rowley said. “Justin obviously has a passion for playing for [manager Terry Francona], loves his teammates and we would’ve loved to have gotten something done.”

“We tried to do everything we could to make that happen, and we weren’t able to come to an agreement,” Rowley added.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti declined comment.

The Indians signed Masterson to a one-year deal worth $9,762,500 to avoid arbitration for 2014 while the two sides continued to discuss a long-term deal.

Cleveland will likely extend a qualifying offer to Masterson after this season in order to secure Draft-pick compensation in the event that he signs elsewhere.

The Indians took the same approach this past winter with Ubaldo Jimenez, who signed a four-year contact worth $50 million with the Orioles.

It is unlikely that the Indians and Masterson will rekindle contract talks during the regular season. Both parties made it clear throughout the negotiating process that Opening Day would serve as an unofficial deadline for extension talks.

Masterson, who will turn 29 years old on Saturday, went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings for the Indians last season.

The sinkerballer made his first American League All-Star team and ended the season with a team-high 195 strikeouts. He has gone 44-55 with a 4.08 ERA in parts of five seasons with Cleveland.

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