Tag: Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson to Pirates: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Veteran pitcher Justin Masterson agreed to a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported. Adam Berry of MLB.com later confirmed the news.  

Masterson spent last season with the Boston Red Sox, posting a 4-2 record with a 5.61 ERA as both a starter and reliever.

In his previous seven years, Masterson was a full-time starter who struggled to be a productive arm in the lower parts of rotations.

His ERA was at least 4.50 or higher in seven of his eight years in the league, including a 2014 that saw him post a 5.88 mark.

Masterson did have a flash-in-the-pan All-Star season in 2013 with the Cleveland Indians in which he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and three shutouts, which led the league. 

If he has a set spot in a rotation, Masterson is capable of eating some innings as a best-case scenario, which is valuable in fourth or fifth starters. The Pirates could be looking for some help there too, especially after the Detroit Tigers hammered starter Juan Nicasio on Tuesday. 

Nicasio threw 94 pitches to get through three innings, allowing four runs and five walks. Of the 19 batters he faced, 11 reached base. 

It’s just one start, though, so there’s always room for improvement. 

Given Masterson’s past in which he’s had problems keeping his ERA down, don’t expect Pittsburgh to rely too heavily on him if it does call him up to the big leagues, as the Pirates are in a National League Central that features dangerous offensive teams like the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Justin Masterson Designated for Assignment by Red Sox: Latest Comments, Reaction

The Boston Red Sox designated pitcher Justin Masterson for assignment Sunday, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe

Much like the Red Sox as a whole, Masterson has turned in a disappointing 2015 campaign. He sports a 4-2 record but an ugly 5.55 ERA, and manager John Farrell commented on the move, per Tom Caron of NESN:

Boston signed the former Cleveland Indians ace to a one-year deal this offseason worth $9.5 million, per Spotrac.com, in the hopes of adding pitching depth after the departure of Jon Lester. Masterson was an All-Star in 2013 with the Indians but struggled through a knee injury in 2014 and has never replicated that success.

Masterson actually came up in the Boston system and was part of the trade that brought the Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez.

Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com provided a hint at what is to come following this decision:

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for Boston fans that the team wants to add a bullpen arm for Masterson. As of Sunday, the Red Sox were 24th in the league in bullpen ERA and have struggled to close out games throughout the season.

While Boston sits in last place in the American League East and is a long-shot at best in the wild-card race, it still needs to find a way to finish games with the bullpen. Adding more depth in place of Masterson could help it do just that.

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Is the Red Sox’s Post-Winter Meetings Rotation Enough to Contend?

Shoot for Jon Lester—even if you miss, you’ll land Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson.

OK, so that’s not exactly how the saying goes. But it is the reality for the Boston Red Sox, who whiffed on a chance to bring back Lester at the MLB winter meetings but did manage to revamp their starting corps, which posted an unsightly 4.36 ERA in 2014.

The question now: Did Boston do enough to address its most glaring weakness and hurl itself back into contention?

Let’s look at the new additions one by one.

Porcello is the best prize of the bunch, which is why he cost Boston a key trade chip. To net the soon-to-be 26-year-old right-hander, Boston sent Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers

Boston, you’ll recall, acquired Cespedes last July at the deadline for, that’s right, Lester, putting a punctuation mark on the Porcello-as-Lester-consolation-prize angle.

So Porcello isn’t Lester. What is he? How about a sinkerballer with excellent control, who averaged just 1.8 walks per nine innings last year while posting a 3.43 ERA in 204.2 innings?

Here’s how Boston GM Ben Cherington summed the situation up, per ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes: “If we had known in July we weren’t going to sign Jon Lester, I think we would have been happy to trade for Rick Porcello.”

Then there’s Miley, the other trade acquisition. Or, make that pending trade acquisition. Here’s more from Edes:

The Sox also have a deal in place in which they will acquire Miley from the Diamondbacks for pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. Arizona GM Dave Stewart, who on Wednesday denied even discussing such a deal, told the Arizona Republic on Thursday that the clubs were still haggling over a minor leaguer who also will go to Arizona as part of the deal.

Let’s assume the trade goes through. What does the left-hander bring from the desert to Beantown? A shaky recent track record, for one, and some less-than-encouraging statistical trends.

Miley is a command guy. That’s his game, so it’s more than a little troubling to note that his walks per nine innings rose from 1.7 in 2012, his All-Star rookie campaign, to 3.4 last year.

He did set a career high in strikeouts with 183 and eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the second straight season. Plus, he just turned 28.

Last, and possibly least, is Masterson. The 29-year-old right-hander was an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians in 2013, but the bottom fell out in 2014.

Masterson was bad with the Indians, posting a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts. Then, after a deadline trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, he was abysmal, coughing up 24 runs on 35 hits in 30.2 forgettable frames.

And so he took what he could get on this crowded pitching market: a one-year, $9.5 million show-me deal from the Red Sox, confirmed Thursday by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com

In a way, it’s a good match: a pitcher trying to rehabilitate his value and a team one year removed from a World Series parade trying to rebound from a last-place, 91-loss season.

Again, though, is it enough? Can the Porcello/Miley/Masterson troika carry Boston past respectability and back to the top of the AL East?

Cherington doesn’t seem so sure; he told Edes that he engaged with James Shields’ agent at the winter meetings and is “waiting to see how the market develops for free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer.”

Plus, Edes speculates, Boston could be in on a range of potential trade targets, including the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Cole Hamels, and Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister of the Washington Nationals.

Whatever route they go, it’s clear the Red Sox can’t cross “starting rotation” off their winter shopping list just yet. 


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference

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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Jon Lester, Jason Heyward and More

The MLB offseason figures to be a busy one for many teams across the league, and we can expect to see many familiar faces in new places once the dust settles.

Some notable transactions have already come to fruition, most recently a one-year deal for A.J. Burnett with the Pittsburgh Pirates. With a healthy amount of coveted players sitting on the free-agent market or rumored to be involved in trade talks, there will be no shortage of gossip floating around the Web any time soon.

A few pieces of information regarding some of the league’s well-known players have recently surfaced from trusted sources across the Internet. Here’s a look at the latest and greatest rumors as a frenzied offseason continues.


Jon Lester Latest

Lester really stepped up during his short time with the Oakland Athletics last season. Through 11 starts with the club, he allowed 66 hits, 20 earned runs and 16 walks while striking out 71 for a 6-4 record and a 2.35 ERA. He also tallied one complete-game shutout over that span.

That late-season success has piqued the interest of several clubs, via Peter Gammons:

Although, two stand out above the rest as very intriguing options.

According to Jeffery Flanagan of Fox Sports, the Kansas City Royals had discussions with the southpaw’s agents. This is interesting considering Lester pitched against the Royals in the American League Wild Card Game, going 7.1 innings and allowing eight hits and six runs for a 7.36 ERA.

The Royals have a phenomenal bullpen but could use some depth in their starting rotation, making Lester a nice fit.

Perhaps more interesting is discussions between Lester’s camp and his former team, the Boston Red Sox. The left-hander was traded to Oakland after spending the better part of nine seasons with Boston, and now it appears as though they want him back.

According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, the interest is expected to be real, and he gives some insight into what the team could be offering:

By now, both sides have a pretty good idea what it will take to get a deal done. Agent Seth Levinson would not be wasting Lester’s time, nor his own, with this meeting unless he had received a direct signal, from Cherington or, just as likely, Lucchino, that the Sox are prepared to make an offer that will not insult the intelligence of the parties involved.

That means an offer of at least five years, more likely six. Anything below $120 million is probably a nonstarter.

We probably shouldn’t expect a deal of this magnitude to be completed once the meeting ends; however, we should have a great idea of just how good the changes are of these parties hammering out a deal.


Jason Heyward Latest

There’s a strong possibility the Atlanta Braves will look to deal Heyward during the offseason. The 25-year-old outfielder is entering the final year of his contract, and there’s a chance Atlanta may not be able to ink him to a long-term deal.

According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, the Braves are looking to add pitching, and if they do enter a rebuilding phase, a trade could be expected:

Whatever the eventual stated goal is, it became pretty clear to me the past few days that the Braves are likely to trade at least one of their corner outfielders, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, both of whom are eligible for free agency a year from now and can probably expect to command long-term contracts worth at least a combined  $35 million annually and perhaps closer to $40 million annually.

If Atlanta does look to trade Heyward, which team is a likely suitor?

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports did tweet that several teams have already called about the outfielder:

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the St. Louis Cardinals “are said to like Heyward.”

St. Louis will be looking to improve its lineup, and Heyward would be a valuable addition. The outfielder tallied 74 runs, 155 hits, 26 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 58 RBI, 20 stolen bases and batted .271 last season. He’s a do-it-all player on offense.

Heyward has really improved his fielding as well over recent years. He only recorded one error last season and was responsible for nine assists and two double plays while maintaining a .997 fielding percentage.


Justin Masterson Latest

Masterson spent the better part of six seasons with the Cleveland Indians until he was dealt to the Cardinals last season. He appeared in nine games for St. Louis, starting six, and didn’t produce as efficiently as expected, totaling a 7.04 ERA during that span.

Interestingly enough, the Indians could be thinking about bringing the right-hander back to Cleveland, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain DealerHoynes put it simply, “Yes, the Indians have talked to Masterson about returning to Cleveland.”

If the Indians do offer the pitcher a deal, expect it to be a short one—perhaps just a year. After all, the team couldn’t have much confidence in Masterson after he slipped from its No. 1 starter to No. 5 in its rotation before being traded.

Bringing the pitcher back would most likely hinge on Cleveland thinking he can get back to the form he displayed in his All-Star 2013 season.

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Indians’ Justin Masterson Tosses an Immaculate Inning Against the Red Sox

Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson tossed the first immaculate inning of his career in the fourth inning of Monday’s game against the Boston Red Sox. Per ESPN.com, a pitcher must strike out all three batters on just nine pitches in order to get credit for an immaculate inning, one of the rarest single-inning accomplishments in baseball.

According to the complete list on baseball-almanac.com, Masterson‘s flawless inning was only the 74th occurrence of such a feat in MLB history. Sixty-nine different pitchers have recorded an immaculate inning, with Nolan Ryan the only one to do so in both leagues.

Only four hurlers have tossed multiple immaculate innings, and all four are legends of the game. Ryan, Lefty Grove and Randy Johnson all did it twice, while Sandy Koufax owns a record three immaculate innings.

Masterson was dominant throughout Monday’s game, striking out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings to improve his record to 3-4. 

His flawless frame started when Boston’s Jonny Gomes took a called first strike, followed by a pair of swinging strikes. 

Former Indian Grady Sizemore also took a first-pitch called strike, then fouled off the second pitch for another strike. He finally struck out swinging on a slider.

Last but not least, recent Red Sox signee Stephen Drew took the first two pitches on called strikes and then succumbed to Masterson‘s slider for a third strike, just as Gomes and Sizemore did.  

Masterson‘s immaculate inning can be relived at MLB.com, with the whole frame condensed into a one-minute clip.

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Best Potential Trade Packages, Landing Spots for Justin Masterson

After winning 92 games and a Wild Card berth in 2013, the last thing the Cleveland Indians would want to do is trade away staff ace Justin Masterson, who is currently the lone projected starter with at least one full big league season under his belt. If anything, they need to add another reliable starter to the mix.

But with the 28-year-old entering his last season before he can become a free agent and contract extension talks on hold, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a trade is something they should at least consider. 

The wide $3.75 million gap in the salary proposals for the arbitration hearing to determine Masterson’s 2014 salary—Masterson is asking for $11.8 million; the Indians are offering for $8.05 million—is also likely an indication of why talks didn’t go very far.

If it has become clear that the All-Star right-hander doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans because his perceived value isn’t anywhere near the organization’s line of thinking, dealing him prior to Opening Day could be the best “big picture” move the team could make.

The Indians could deal him prior to the trade deadline, but only if the team was well out of playoff contention. With Masterson in the mix, this team is probably too good to fall into that scenario.

Of course, it would be unfathomable to think that the Tribe would deal Masterson now unless they could replace his production prior to the start of the season. In fact, manager Terry Francona tried to squash trade rumors earlier in the offseason by calling Masterson and telling him he wouldn’t be traded, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

But if a scenario presented itself that would allow the Indians to remain competitive in 2014 and beyond, Francona might have to go back on his word. That’s why you never say “never.” Signing Ervin Santana or re-signing Ubaldo Jimenez would qualify as one of these scenarios, as would a trade that involves a major league pitcher returning to Cleveland to go along with the signing of Bronson Arroyo. 

Without either of those two combinations happening, the team would have an extremely difficult time holding up for a 162-game season.

Here are four teams that would likely be interested in Masterson and the potential trade packages that could land him.

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MLB: Cleveland Indians Players Who May Have an Increased Role in 2013

While Jeff Loria and the Miami Marlins have shed incredible amounts of payroll with a firesale that makes your local merchandise liquidation retailer look like a Nordstrom, other teams around the majors seem to be taking the offseason slowly to this point.

After finishing 68-94 in 2012 and doing nothing at the deadline to establish themselves as buyers or sellers, it is anyone’s guess as to what the Cleveland Indians will be doing with the current roster. While there have been rumors related to Asdrubal Cabrera or Shin-Soo Choo being traded, it is quite possible that the Tribe does nothing and focuses on trying to compete with the roster that they currently have.

While the pitching staff struggled in 2012, the Indians will still be led by Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach McAllister, if the club stands pat, fans will see some interesting names toeing the rubber at Progressive Field in 2013.

With Travis Hafner finally reaching free agency, the Indians will officially move away from anyone associated with the last generation of Indians’ success. Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Choo and Carlos Santana provide a little bit of hope, albeit with a lot of question marks around the rest of the field.

So, who will the Indians count on in 2013 if they don’t start making any moves? Surprisingly, there is a little bit of hope in the existing names. What can you expect from the players who fill up the remaining 25-man roster?

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Ranking the 8 Indians That Cleveland Must Get Rid of Before 2013

At 64-91 (.413), the Cleveland Indians are the worst team in the American League, sharing the exciting title with in-division rival Minnesota after Cleveland beat the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. With just seven games remaining, the Tribe is set to finish a season with fewer than 70 wins in a season for the fourth time since 2000.

There are and have been a lot of issues for the Indians throughout the 2012 season. Some of these included: The bullpen, the left-handed lineup, the inability to find a powerful right-handed bat, the unwillingness of ownership and management to make a move to help the team contend, the inability to find leadership to get out of their excessive losing streaks and the inconsistency from players the team was counting on for big things in 2012.

Now, heading into another rebuilding session, the Cleveland Indians have to do some things to shake up the roster. The 40-man roster has a lot of useful names and many more useless names. Highlighted by players set for tremendous pay increases, the Indians have a lot of decisions to make before Opening Day of 2013.

Depending on the direction that management and ownership takes, you could argue with many, many names. I’m taking the path of a complete rebuild, developing talent by acquiring near-ready prospects and making a drastic change to the every-day roster.

While some names could shock you, so has the 20-50 record in the second half. If that hasn’t done the trick, how about the 27-58 record since losing control of first place in the AL Central on June 23 for the final time of the 2012 season.

The fall from grace demands change.

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Cleveland Indians: The 10 Greatest Trades of the Mark Shapiro Era

Mark Shapiro is one of the most polarizing GM’s in professional sports. ‘Shap’ took over as Cleveland’s GM following the departure of John Hart, a man many identify as synonymous with the winning Tribe baseball of the 1990s.

Shapiro’s arrival and tenure as Indians GM coincided with the team’s sale to the much-maligned Larry Dolan. As Shapiro will forever be linked to Dolan, many Tribe fans are quick to associate words like “cheap” and “rebuilding” as hallmarks of his legacy.

Shapiro has the dubious distinction as being the only GM to trade away successive reigning Cy Young winners. The trades of CC Sabathia in 2008 and Cliff Lee in 2009 will live forever in Cleveland Indians infamy.

Cleveland fans were encouraged to remain patient after both deals were made, as the Tribe obtained a total of seven prospects for Sabathia and Lee. Three and four years removed from both trades, however, only Michael Brantley is an everyday player for the Tribe, and he’s had his own struggles with inconsistency.

Despite the perceived ineptitude, however, Shapiro and his protégé Chris Antonetti have laid the groundwork for a competitive young Indians team that is currently atop the AL Central.

Setting aside the Sabathia and Lee deals, I’m going to focus strictly on Mark Shapiro’s history of successful trades, many of which go unnoticed by the pitchfork-wielding mob of nay-saying Tribe fans.

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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: 4 Pitchers That Are Quality Start All-Stars

Picking out quality starting pitching for your fantasy baseball team can be a fickle enterprise, given how difficult it is to project how well any given MLB hurler will fare from year to year.

Not to mention how few and far between aces tend to be.

Now, I could easily tell you to go out and drop your auction dollars/draft picks on guys like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver and James Shields, but those guys are stuck in tough divisions amidst offenses that could blast them on any given night.

Instead, stick with these four guys, who should be comfortable cranking up the heat—and racking up quality starts—against weak competition this season.


Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Yeah, okay, so maybe recommending that you pick up the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and MVP isn’t much of a stretch, especially since he led the majors in quality starts with 28.

And sure, there’s a fair risk that after such a spectacular season in 2011 Justin Verlander could regress toward the mean of his career, as most projections suggest he will.

Even so, at the age of 29, Verlander should still have some elite years left in his electric arm and should find himself pitching comfortably from ahead more often than not in a so-so AL Central, with the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder providing him ample run support every time out. 

Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians

If you’re looking for a bit of a risky value pick in the AL Central, I offer you Justin Masterson.

The 26-year-old righty had a breakout year for the Indians in 2011, piling up 22 quality starts and career bests in earned-run average (3.21), fielding-independent pitching (3.28) and wins (12).

Of course, there’s reason to worry that Masterson might fall to the back of the pack, considering his low strikeout rate (7.11 K/9 career) and penchant for free passes (3.49 BB/9 career), along with his lack of a prior track record.

But, then again, Masterson might just be a late bloomer and at his age he should be approaching his pitching prime. Hence, if you can master Masterson for a reasonable sum, you’d be well advised to do so.

Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

The only place in baseball better for pitchers than the AL Central is the National League West, a division in which the only half-decent offense—that of the Arizona Diamondbacks—happens to be replete with free swingers.

So it should come as no surprise that a power pitcher like San Francisco’s Matt Cain should be atop your fantasy wish list. Cain finished the 2011 season with an NL-best 26 quality starts, even though his strikeout rate (7.27 K/9) wasn’t exactly anything to write home about.

Cain’s secret to success? Limiting home runs—he gave up just 0.37 of ’em per nine innings.

It certainly helps Cain’s case that he plays in the cavernous AT&T Park and will be playing the season as a 27-year-old continuing to dominate alongside Tim Lincecum in the Giants’ rotation. Of course, the wins may be hard to come by behind San Fran’s so-so offense.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Why not bring this bit full circle with Cain’s most able challenger in the NL West, Clayton Kershaw?

What’s not to like about Kersh? He just turned 24, won the NL Cy Young last season after claiming the league’s Triple Crown of pitching, and he picked up 25 quality starts in 2011.

Oh, and he’s fanned better than nine betters per nine innings during his career.

And like Cain, he pitches in the NL West, the most offensively inept division in all of baseball, and in one of the great pitchers’ parks in the Big Leagues.

True, the Dodgers offense is little more than Matt Kemp and the Kempettes, but that shouldn’t affect Clay’s performance on the mound too much.

Not after picking up 21 wins with middling run support last year.


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