Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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As a Cleveland Indians fan, I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Throughout my young time on this earth, I have seen the Tribe go from consistent World Series contenders to cellar dwellers in the matter of a few short years. We got used to seeing our star talent get traded away, and when they left, so did our wins. The only good thing about the rough years was the stockpiling of young prospects and Cleveland’s record was so bad that they fired Manny Acta (thank god).
With Terry Francona at the helm, the Tribe finished 92-70 in 2013 and even reached the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Cleveland looks to be back in the driver’s seat for another playoff berth this season, but if they want to stay relevant for years to come, one of those former young prospects I mentioned is due for a major contract extension.
That former young prospect happens to be Cleveland’s pitching ace and Beavercreek, Ohio native, Justin Masterson. After agreeing upon a $9.7625-million contract for 2014 with the Tribe, Masterson is very interested in a 3-4 year contract extension with the Wahoo Warriors. Since I have no direct connection to Chris Antonetti (have your people call mine, Chris), I can only imagine that the feeling is mutual in Cleveland’s front office.
Last year for the Indians, Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts. The masterful Masterson also recorded 3 complete game shutouts and even gave the Tribe some well needed postseason run help out of the bullpen after recovering from an oblique injury. It looks as if Masterson has finally come into his own as a top of the rotation guy, but if you look at what he does when not on the hill, this wicked right-hander is much more than a valuable asset for the Indians.
When Francona came to town, he implemented this “family first” mentality within the organization. Kind of like Jackie Moon’s “Everybody Love Everybody” motto with the Flint Tropics…but I digress. That family like atmosphere has allowed the Indians to play loose, have fun and rally around each other like brothers. That team-like atmosphere is perfect for a guy like Justin Masterson who has a very laid back attitude and can pull off some goofy antics. For a guy who enjoys shaving people’s heads for charity and bringing live chickens to the ballpark, Masterson is just as important to the Tribe’s success as this new atmosphere is to his own.
An extension may not get done and the San Diego State Alum may be wearing another jersey next season, but if the Cleveland Indians are truly set on becoming World Series contenders again, then a contract extension for a thriving and up-ticking Masterson is more than necessary.
My Prediction: 4-years/$54-Million Contract Extension with the Cleveland Indians