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.
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