The Cleveland Indians have won their arbitration case with relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano, reports CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The Indians’ filing of $975,000 won out over Pestano’s offer of $1.45 million for the 2014 season. The two sides met in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday morning.
The setup man, who turns 29 in a couple weeks, is in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He’s eligible to be a free agent after the 2017 season. He owns a career 2.82 ERA with 205 strikeouts in 172.1 innings over 179 MLB relief appearances.
Most memorably, Pestano was demoted to Triple-A Columbus on July 31 this past season. He had a 3.29 ERA in 14 games for the Clippers last year, his first stint back in the minors since 2010. He pitched in three September games for the Tribe. He’s one of the favorites for the final bullpen roles this season.
MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian shared some insights on the case on Thursday. It was the Indians’ first arbitration hearing since 1991 with Greg Swindell and Jerry Browne. The team also is likely headed to arbitration in the next two weeks with Josh Tomlin, Michael Brantley and Justin Masterson.
Masterson, who turns 29 in March, had the largest arbitration filing gap in baseball this offseason. The team filed for $8.05 million and the player’s camp filed for $11.8 million. This is his final season of arbitration eligibility and the team’s ace is scheduled to be a free agent after this year. Recently, extension talks were put on hold in order to focus on a one-year deal.
Why are so many arbitration cases happening for the Indians? Why would they even both going to a hearing over such relatively small gaps for Pestano and Tomlin?
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter had a very detailed article on Friday about the “file-to-go” or “file and trial” strategy that many more teams are adopting. The team strategy declares that “once they have officially exchanged arbitration figures with a player, they will no longer negotiate with him. His salary will be decided in a hearing.”
The specifics of why such a strategy can be beneficial to teams are a bit complex. Essentially, it is designed to avoid going to hearings and force agents to file actually realistic numbers for their players. Certainly, rightfully or not, Cleveland’s arbitration cases this season – their first in over 20 years – won’t help the fan narrative about the team’s willingness to spend competitively.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.