Indians win arbitration case with reliever Vinnie Pestano

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20130118-121651.jpgThe 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.

[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

  • Kildawg

    I still feel that the Indians will lose their other cases though. Tomlin due to the small gap (plus being a starter rather than a reliever), Masterson due to top-shelf SP coming at a premium, and Brantley due to him staying healthy and consistent.

  • Natedawg86

    Is 450k diff a win for the Indians? If he blows up this year and has a 0.98 era there is 0% chance of him signing here next yr

  • DCTribeFan

    He has 3 arb years left, so there’s little doubt that he’ll sign here next year. Unless the Tribe cuts him or trades him, that is. Vinny has no choice in the matter.

  • Harv 21

    This file-and-trial mode may be good for Antonetti if what someone at the PD suggested is true: after 20 years agents now assume the Tribe are in perpetual conflict avoidance mode with any player on the roster. This technique can settle cases, but only as long as the agents know the Tribe’s arbitration number will never be a lowball, and instead one easily justified to the arbitrator. The team wants the agent telling his client, “the Indians’ arb number will be fair and they don’t lose many of these, so we better work this out now.” Instead of “We’ll get our best number the night before the hearing, they always cave.”

    No idea what Josh Tomlin and his agent are thinking, given how many years it’s been since he’s been a healthy and effective ML pitcher.

  • Natedawg86

    Oh… Baseball finance rules hurt my head

  • mgbode

    yes, that is the crux of the method/idea. that teams will give realistic numbers and not worry about a “middle ground” and agents will follow suit (because they know they would lose to a realistic number in arbitration in most cases).