Inbox: Why did Masterson talks break down?
Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers questions from Indians fans
It seems like Justin Masterson and his agent gave the Indians a very accessible offer. He has been vocal about his desire to stay and consider a shorter deal, but the Tribe has not acted on it yet. Should we prepare to watch Masty walk away as a free agent? I don't see Cleveland being able to afford him if he hits the open market.
-- Cesar R., Philadelphia and Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
Masterson has made it clear that he wants to stay with Cleveland, especially with manager Terry Francona leading the way. But talks broke apart between the two sides on Thursday.
Masterson's camp presented some financial parameters roughly two weeks ago. The idea was to present Cleveland with an average annual salary structure to potentially use for a three-year or four-year contract.
Cleveland could try to go year to year with Masterson via qualifying offers, but the pitcher would surely decline and test the open waters with a decent showing this summer.
So, why did talks break down? One factor from Cleveland's side is likely upcoming salary commitments. If the Indians sign Masterson for around $16 million for 2015, roughly $64 million would be tied up in seven players for a team that typically operates under $90 million. In '16, it'd mean roughly $60 million would be linked to five contracts. Those figures do not include the wave of arbitration-eligible players, either.
I understand the raw stuff that Carlos Carrasco has, but can you explain why he's being considered for the final rotation spot over Josh Tomlin and Aaron Harang? Tomlin and Harang don't beat themselves. Carrasco was clearly dominant out of the 'pen last year.
-- Rex H., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I don't think anyone has said Carrasco is being considered over Tomlin and Harang, but he is certainly being given an equal shot to earn the job due to being out of options and because of the overpowering stuff he flashes. If Cleveland decides that it is better off with Tomlin or Harang in the rotation -- a distinct possibility -- Carrasco would have a home in the Opening Day bullpen.
Carrasco looked strong in the weeks leading up to his last two outings. He looked aggressive and sounded like he had a new mental approach. In his "B" game last week and his showing against the A's on Wednesday, though, Carrasco seemed to slide back into his old bad habits. The righty got away from attack mode, and Francona called it both frustrating and disappointing.
Why are the Indians so insistent that Danny Salazar is in the rotation? Why not send him to Triple-A Columbus and preserve his innings while seeing if Carrasco is the real deal? Salazar would be available to take over as soon as one of the first five falter or get hurt.
-- David A., Hudson, Ohio
The Indians have been conservative with Salazar's throwing program this spring, but the team has said it is no longer worried about limiting Salazar's innings this season. If the team is going to field its best five pitchers, the right-hander should be in the mix. Salazar has top-of-the-rotation potential, so there is no need to stash him away in the Minors any longer.
If Michael Bourn isn't ready for Opening Day because of the hamstring injury, who do you see starting in center field?
-- Connor R., Buffalo, N.Y.
The Indians are optimistic about Bourn's chances of recovering in time for the opener, but I'd wager that Michael Brantley would shift from left to center if the injury lingers longer than hoped. Outfielder David Murphy can play either right or left field, and utility men Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn offer depth in the corners, too. If Bourn were to land on the disabled list, it could also more realistically open a spot for bench candidates like Nyjer Morgan or Jeff Francoeur.
Do you see Elliot Johnson making Opening Day roster? He's been playing well.
-- Ruben C., Port Clinton, Ohio (@anotherRube via Twitter)
Considering that veteran Jason Giambi (fractured rib in his right side) will probably begin the season on the disabled list, Johnson's chances of making the roster appear strong. Francona values Johnson's ability to play all over the diamond, and the utility man has shown this spring that he can offer the team a solid switch-hitter off the bench.
Will Cleveland start the year with a nine-man bullpen?
-- James K., Grand Rapids, Mich.
Not unless Francona plans on having a four-man rotation. The Indians will probably open with a traditional seven-man bullpen, unless they have some roster trickery up their sleeve. Cleveland could possibly start with its fifth starter off the roster since the club will not need him until April 8. That, or going with a three-man bench, could pave the way for an eight-man bullpen.
Is anyone having more fun than Nicky Swish?
-- Bryan H., New York (@BryanHoch)
What's up, Hochy? Man, Swish is just so excited about all the young thundercats in the clubhouse, bro.