By Christian Petrila
If the world does indeed end in 2012, the Indians are planning on going out by saving money.
Not a single Indian is guaranteed a contract past 2012. The few who have player options are Travis Hafner, Roberto Hernandez Heredia (Fausto Carmona), and Ubaldo Jimenez. Out of those three, it is highly likely that Jimenez has the only option the Indians would be willing to pick up.
After the 2012 season, the Indians will be getting plenty of money off the books. They will free up Hafner’s $13 million, Sizemore’s $5 million, and “Carmona’s” $7 million. For teams like the Yankees, $25 million is pocket change. However, for a team like the Indians, they could do plenty with all that money.
First and foremost, the Indians absolutely need to give their young rising stars contract extensions. Priority number one has to be Justin Masterson. His career win-loss record with the Indians is only 19-30, but those numbers are deceptive. Yes, his first year and a half was shaky, but since then nobody has been a more tough-luck loser than Masterson. It seemed he would always be on the short end of a 1-0 or a 2-1 loss. In 2011, he led the Indians with a 3.21 ERA. He’s only 26 so the sooner the Indians can lock him up, the better.
Another obvious extension has to be Asdrubal Cabrera. Feel free to call me Captain Obvious on this one. He’s set to make $4.5 million in 2012 and is a candidate for a hefty pay raise. If you’re the Indians, you can’t possibly let a 25 year-old rising star slide through your grasp; especially with Francisco Lindor still a few years away from cracking the Major League roster. If I’m the Indians, I give Asdrubal 4-5 years which should keep him under Cleveland’s control well through his prime.
The Tampa Bay Rays have the right idea. Lock up their young players to long-term contracts right off the bat. The Rays did it with Evan Longoria and Matt Moore. The Indians even did it in the 1990s when they were at their height, signing Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez to long-term deals. Possible candidates today include Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. Kipnis is 24 and Santana is 25. If the Indians were to sign them to long-term deals, it would essentially work the same way as with Cabrera; taking both players into their prime with the Indians.
The fact that the Indians will have some spending money after 2012 definitely helps their cause. The saying, “to make money, you need to spend money” applies to the Indians. If they want to keep their core together past 2013.
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