Indians and Michael Brantley close to signing four-year extension

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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Michael Brantley are close to signing a four-year contract extension. This news was first reported by Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

In what was his first full season as the everyday left fielder for the Indians, the 26-year-old Brantley provided incredible stability by playing in 151 games, hitting a team-high .284 (.728 OPS). His across-the-board production, aided by a substantial increase in stolen base success rate, saw him finish ranked 34th among all outfielders in 2013 (per Fangraphs), ahead of notables like Detroit’s Austin Jackson, Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings and Los Angeles’ Josh Hamilton.

The financials of the deal are not yet known, but Brantley was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so it sounds like the Indians may have bought out at least one free agent year, similar to the deals given to Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana over the past few seasons.

Naturally, we will have more on this as details emerge.

Update at 9:10 p.m. Monday: Hoynes has reported the official terms of the contract.

Brantley had been projected for a 2014 salary of $3.7 million, per MLB Trade Rumors. We’ll have plenty more analysis on this topic tomorrow at WFNY.

[Jon's June 2013 article on an extension: Michael Brantley and the Wait ‘n See Approach]

  • JHop

    I’m so unaccustomed to reading “signing” instead of “trading for prospects” when it comes to Indians personnel moves.

  • Steve

    It would behoove you to note the difference between pre-arb and arb talent and guys just about to hit free agency, and why the latter have to be treated so much differently by the team.

  • mgbode

    I think this ends up going the full 5yr/$36mil contract possible. And, I think the Indians are getting a bargain (I understand why Brantley did it for the security due to the arb-system).

    Brantley isn’t an allstar, but he’s a very solid player and one who is fun to watch play the game. So, I am very happy to have him on our team moving forward.

  • Steve

    Yeah, this is fine, it’s no steal, as he’s not that great a player, but he’s more than a placeholder. He’ll fill in adequately, and hopefully he can develop some old-player skills (power and plate discipline).

  • Ed Carroll

    IF his production continues, the deal is fine. I just don’t really get why they needed to do this meow but I suppose they didn’t wanna risk him having a great season this year and jacking up his next two arb years. Plus, they buy out a FA year. Personally, I woulda let him run through arb and dealt him next offseason, but whatever.

  • Steve

    Eh, they’ll never have to pay him more than $7.5M if his production falls off. By that time I’d guess that doesn’t get you more than a 1 WAR player on the FA market anyway. Unless he absolutely cannot get on the field, I think the risk is fairly minimal.

    If they had upper level minor league talent in the OF, sure you can look to move him sooner, but I don’t think they’re going to have any better internal solutions before 2017 anyway, might as well lock up that extra FA year (and two with the option)

  • Ed Carroll

    Yeah it’s not a terrible deal, and assuming he continues to be worth at least a win into that free agent year, the deal is probably a bargain. I just saw trading him as an easy way to upgrade other more pressing areas on the team.

    But I wouldn’t read too much into this extension as a sign that they don’t trust any of the players in the minors. I’m quite interested to see what Tyler Naquin shows us this season. But he’s likely the closest (other than Carlos Moncrief), and I’d rather the team not bank on the prospects, that can end up a mess. If a young guy is ready, they can always flip someone (Bourn, maybe?) and Murphy/Raburn will be potential free agents in 2015 (club options for both for the 2016 season, tho), so they can always make room (or, maybe Brantley is easier to trade then?).

  • Steve

    I’m pretty sure it was Moncrief who blew up in winter ball, but I’m not expecting much from him. He was a good hitter in AA last year, but not a great one, and was old for his class at 24. Naquin has been trending “Crowe” in my opinion. Again that good-but-not-great performance against younger players. I’m interested too, and a big performance in AA is necessary, as his numbers to date don’t impress. Maybe one day WashTime can get healthy, but at this point it feels like a fool’s bet. Same old corner OF problems for this franchise.