Indians, Kipnis set Opening Day as deadline for contract extension talks

Nick Swisher

While much of the focus has been on Justin Masterson and his impending free agency, All-Star second basemand Jason Kipnis has set Opening Day as the deadline for the Indians to come to the table with a reasonable contract extension that would conceivably lock him up beyond his impending arbitration years.

“Our goal is always to have contract matters resolved before the start of the season to allow everyone’s focus to remain on the field,” general manager Chris Antonetti said.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman used Matt Carpenter’s recent six-year, $52 million extension as a barometer for what Kipnis is likely to get, but many are also pointing to the deal recently signed by defensive WAR hero and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons where Atlanta offered seven years for $58 million.

The Tribe was unable to agree to a contract extension with ace pitcher Justin Masterson, with Masterson asking for roughly $17 million per year over two or three years; the Indians offered significantly less than that, reportedly closer to $14 million. Unlike Masterson, Kipnis has been well above average over the last few seasons, providing five-tool talent that has been absent since the days of peak Grady Sizemore. No financial details regarding the Kipnis talks have come out yet, but the second baseman is coming off of a spectacular season where he hit 17 home runs, drove in 84 runs and a .284 batting averge. He was integral in the team’s run to the postseason and ultimately finished 11th in AL MVP voting.

The Indians front office has long discussed locking up their core players, most recently when signing outfielder Michael Brantley to a contract extension. As has been reported ad nauseum, Kipnis is under club control for several more seasons so there isn’t much in the way of a true deadline. Avoiding arbitration with a player of his age and talent level, however, would be very wise.


(Image: Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

  • Jason Hurley

    #PayTheMan indeed. If the could lock him up for lots of years for $9-$10 million/season, that would be a great deal going forward.

  • mgbode

    pay more than you have to now so you can pay less than you would have to later. smart trade-off

  • Grif_E

    You guys can’t push articles, tweets, etc. decrying RBIs (for like years now right?) and then go and just drop it into articles like this, and expect me to not just stare blankly at “… drove in 84 runs …” like it’s supposed to mean something to me for the value of a player in your “pay the man” argument.

  • – Top five second baseman in WAR for 2013
    – Top three in wOBA and wRC+
    – Subtantial improvement in O-Swing%, line drive rate, and pitches seen per PA

  • mgbode

    I agree, using his 133 OPS+ and full slashline of .284/.366/.454 not to mention his 5.15 jWAR, .168 Isolated power, and 5.9 Speed Metric show his true ability more than those statistics.

    And, I dream of him putting together a consistent full year effort as his numbers have fallen off a bit towards the end of the past couple of seasons. If he does that, then he may see a decent increase in those too and be a true AL-MVP candidate.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    133 OPS+ and full slashline of .284/.366/.454 not to mention his 5.15 jWAR, .168 Isolated power, and 5.9 Speed Metric show

    OY VEY! You could have saved yourself precious time and just said he was one of the best 2B in the game.

  • Steve

    Much better.

  • Steve

    What does #PayTheMan mean exactly? I’ll give him each of those contracts mentioned, but what if he wants even more? There’s a line that small market franchises have to draw, whether we like it or not.

  • Jason Hurley

    Of course there’s a line. In this regard, #PayTheMan is my enthusiasm to get a smart extension done now at what may be a little bit of an over-pay at the moment, but what would look to be a bargain in the latter half of the deal. Like they did in the early ’90’s with their core players.

  • Steve

    “a smart extension”

    Agree, but #PayTheMan seemed to me more like a “do whatever it takes to keep him in uniform” than to negotiate “a smart extension”. I’m worried that a lot of people fall in the former more than the latter.

    If an extension doesn’t get done, the fans are going to be back ripping the Dolans without having any idea if Kipnis was actually willing to accept a comparable deal to Carpenter and Simmons.

  • I’m for anyone who references jWAR.

  • mgbode

    2013 Kipnis is one of the perfect candidates for it as well. 5.9 bWAR and 4.5 fWAR is just a ridiculous gap for a statistic that most fans would just assume is the unified.

  • Kildawg

    Or mention that he not only made the All Star roster (which Cano and Pedroia clog seemingly annually anymore), but that he had an RBI double that game against arguably the best closer in MLB (Kimbrel in ATL).