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Indians Reach Agreement With Ace Justin Masterson

By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The Fan Indians Beat Reporter
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Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

TJ_300x300 T.J. Zuppe
T.J. Zuppe began his broadcasting career in 2008 and has covered major...
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The Cleveland Indians avoided an arbitration hearing with ace pitcher Justin Masterson, reaching an agreement on a one-year contract for 2014 worth $9.7625 million.

The team confirmed the one-year contract on Tuesday prior to Masterson’s hearing set for Thursday. Numbers of the deal were first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The contract eliminates the need for arbitration between both parties to settle the contract dispute. Masterson had filed for $11.8 million, while the team countered with $8.05 million.

He made $5.6875 million last season.

The 28-year-old pitcher is entering his final season under Tribe control. He will become a free agent following the 2014 campaign if a multi-year extension cannot be reached prior to the end of the season.

Masterson grew into the role of the team’s ace in 2013 statistically and in the locker room. The right-hander rebounded from an inconsistent 2012 to go 14-10 with an ERA of 3.45 in 193 innings of work – but also emerged as a leader in the pitching staff last season – taking time to develop relationships with several young Indians pitchers.

That emergence has made Masterson a candidate for a multi-year extension. However, talks between both parties were reportedly tabled earlier in the off-season in favor of working on a one-year contract for 2014.

Discussions about a multi-year extension beyond 2014 may continue with Masterson this spring. However, despite the team not having any hard and fast rules about not negotiating long-term deals once the season starts, they could potentially come to an end once the campaign begins in order to avoid distraction.

General manager Chris Antonetti told reporters in Arizona his preference is to keep discussions held to this spring.

Masterson’s teammate, Michael Brantley, earned a four-year extension from the Tribe at the beginning of Spring Training worth $25 million.

Antonetti told 92.3 The Fan that Brantley’s extension has no bearing on any future extension talks with other players – including Masterson.

The right-hander’s name surfaced in trade rumors at the Winter Meetings in December, however, manager Terry Francona made it clear that Masterson was not going anywhere in the near future.

Masterson was the club’s final arbitration eligible player. The team defeated Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin in arbitration earlier this month, their first time through the process since 1991.

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