Jason Kipnis has developed into one of Major League Baseball's best second basemen, and the Cleveland Indians rewarded him Friday by signing him to a new deal, according to the team's official Twitter account:
Per Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com, the contract is worth $52.5 million over six years with an option for a seventh:
Kipnis deal worth $52.5 million over six years. Option for a seventh year.— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) April 4, 2014
Jordan Bastian of Indians.com added that the new contract starts this season, and the option in 2020 belongs to the Tribe rather than Kipnis:
Jason Kipnis' deal covers this season, three arbitration seasons and two free-agent years. The club option is for 2020.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 4, 2014
Bastian added more contract details:
Kipnis breakdown: $1M signing bonus, $2M '14, $4M '15, $6M '16, $9M '17, $13.5 '18, $14.5 '19. 2020 club option: $16.5M or $2.5M buyout.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 4, 2014
The Indians' official Twitter feed provides us with Kipnis and manager Terry Francona's thoughts on the deal:
Kipnis: "I have wanted to be a part of the group of players that turned this organization around."— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 4, 2014
Kipnis: "Today is special. I've wanted to stay here. When you have the core guys here, it shows the ownership believes in us."— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 4, 2014
Terry: "Having stability is good, but having stability with the right guys is better."— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 4, 2014
The 2014 season is just Kipnis' third as a full-time starter. He burst onto the scene late in the 2011 campaign and displayed impressive power for a middle infielder. He carried that into the 2012 season and improved even more in 2013.
Kipnis is coming off a year in which he hit .284 with 17 home runs and 84 RBI while also adding in an impressive 30 stolen bases.
He is now firmly in his prime at 27 years of age, and there is no question that he is among the best second basemen in baseball.
That fact is quite impressive since Kipnis has only been playing the position since 2009, according to Bud Shaw of The Plain Dealer. He made the move from the outfield, and while he still has some work to do from a defensive perspective, there is no doubt that he can rake at the plate.
Because of that, Indians president Mark Shapiro had every intention of locking him up, per Shaw.
"We've been consistent in our desire to want to keep him here and he's been consistent in wanting to be here," Shapiro said. "It's just a matter of whether you can lock in that value where both sides are comfortable."
Is this a good signing for the Indians?
Apparently both Shapiro and Kipnis are happy with the terms of the deal, and the focus can now shift toward getting the Tribe into the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Indians have a strong lineup from top to bottom, including Nick Swisher, Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley in the 2-3-4-5 spots. The lineup doesn't have a truly dominant hitter, but Kipnis is a key contributor who makes the offense go with his blend of speed and power.
Cleveland deserves a lot of credit for identifying his skill set and putting him in a position to succeed. Now the organization is set to reap the benefits moving forward.
Kipnis is no Robinson Cano at second base, but after the Seattle Mariners signed him to a $240 million contract this past offseason, there is no question the Indians got great value.
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