Chris Antonetti recently said that he wants Justin Masterson to be an Indian “long term”. This is a tricky situation for the Tribe’s front office right now. They are trying to sign Masterson to a multi-year deal so that he doesn’t disappear during free agency, but they are also weighing their trade options just in case they feel he may leave. Cleveland fans hope that a trade isn’t likely to happen, but that won’t stop Antonetti from listening to offers for his number one starter.
If the Tribe were to deal Masterson, it would leave the starting rotation in disarray and would signal from the front office that last year was a fluke, not a building block to another postseason appearance. The Indians have already lost Scott Kazmir to Oakland and it looks as though Ubaldo Jimenez is not going to re-sign.
“Part of my job is to listen and understand how the industry and other teams value our players. There are a lot of guys we’ve talked about – and you guys have asked specifically about for three years – and all of those guys are still here and our answer is the same.” Antonetti told the Plain Dealer.
Cabrera is also a trade target. He’s also scheduled to become a free agent the same time that Masterson is.
This morning Bob Nightengale with USA Today indicated that the New York Yankees were interested in Masterson and that Brett Gardner could be moved to acquire him. Since the Indians have no need for another OF, another team would have to be involved.
All this trade talk might make one think that the front office is serious about trading Masterson, but if they want to win next season (and I believe they do) then he’ll stay in a Cleveland uniform for at least one more season. Time is on Masterson’s side – his agent indicated he’d like to see where the FA market for pitchers end up. It’s likely if the Indians lure him away from free agency it will be with a $65 million deal or more for at least five years.
But don’t forget our past trades: C.C. Sebathia & Cliff Lee. They were both our number one starters at one time and close to free agency before being traded…let’s hope Masterson doesn’t leave the same way.