Shane Bieber Open to Long-Term Contract with Cleveland After Winning Cy Young

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2021

Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber throws against the Detroit Tigers in the third fourth inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Coming off a career year in 2020, Cleveland ace Shane Bieber is amenable to discussing a long-term extension with the organization.

Bieber told reporters Monday negotiations have yet to begin. The 25-year-old isn't eligible to become a free agent until 2025.

Cleveland's appetite for a new contract is in question after the team traded Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets once it became clear he would enter free agency in 2022.

The issue with Lindor wasn't whether he wanted to stay in Cleveland but whether ownership would meet his asking price.

Zack Meisel @ZackMeisel

Can the Indians meet Francisco Lindor's asking price? "Of course. It's a billion-dollar team." Might COVID have a negative economic impact on long-term deals? Lindor: "Did you just see MLB just signed a $3 billion (TV) contract?"

Once team chairman Paul Dolan told The Athletic's Zack Meisel in March 2019 that fans should "enjoy him" when asked about the star shortstop's future, the outcome was certain.

Cleveland is also running MLB's lowest payroll ($38.1 million) for 2021 after having jettisoned many experienced veterans from the roster. The front office may not be prioritizing an extension for Bieber given how much longer he remains under team control.

Cleveland has proactively handed out new contracts to its best players in the past, but that was usually to the team's benefit. The four-year, $26 million deal Jose Ramirez signed is a massive bargain, and two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was underpaid thanks to a five-year, $38.5 million pact he signed in 2015.

Bieber could gain some financial security by working something out now rather than going year to year in arbitration. That would likely come at the cost of his earning potential down the line.

Based on how the Lindor saga unfolded, fans won't be optimistic about Bieber's future in Cleveland beyond the 2024 season.