Tony Dejak/Associated Press
How quickly times have changed.
Not long ago, the Cleveland Indians were vilified by some for taking a hard line with starting pitcher Justin Masterson's contract. Now, he is on the 15-day disabled list with knee inflammation after starting the season 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.653 WHIP. He has also walked 56 batters in 98.0 innings pitched.
Truthfully, Masterson has largely hurt the Indians more than he has helped them.
Now one could argue that given his poor performance this season, he would generate little trade interest. That belief is off the mark. Given his past success, there are a number of teams that would gladly bring him over as they make a push toward the postseason.
Yes, the return will be minimal, but he still has value nonetheless. All he may need is a mechanical adjustment or a change of scenery to once again be a force in any rotation.
Another reason Masterson will likely end up on the trading block regards his contract. As it stands, the Indians have two choices if he is still on the roster once the season ends.
First, they can make him a qualifying offer as a Type A free agent. If he refuses, they would get a compensatory draft pick in return. The problem there is that he will probably accept the offer in hope of rebounding next year and getting a larger contract during the 2015 offseason.
The other option is to let him walk outright. Simply put, neither of those choices are very attractive for general manager Chris Antonetti. He needs to put Masterson on the block and get whatever he can in return.
None of this means that the Indians are going to begin selling off multiple assets and give up on the 2014 season. They are very much in the thick of the playoff picture. Assuming Masterson’s knee does not require surgery, moving him is smart business.
One final thing to consider is that Antonetti could add a different starting pitcher via trade or call up Danny Salazar from Triple-A Columbus to take his place.
Unless otherwise noted, all general, split and advanced statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate as of game time on Wednesday, July 9. Transaction, injury, prospect and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was taken from Cot’s Contracts.