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Indians, Brantley reach agreement on a four-year deal

Indians, Brantley reach agreement on a four-year deal
February 10, 2014
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According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians have reached agreement on a multi-year deal with outfielder Michael Brantley.  According to the report, the deal is a four-year $25 million deal that includes an $11 million club option for a fifth year.

[Edit: The contract breakdown is as follows: A $3.5 million signing bonus and base salaries of $1.5M in 2014, $5M in 2015, $6.5M in 2016 and $7.5M in 2017. Note, the signing bonus is pro-rated over the four years]

Brantley, 26, was eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and had three years of club control left before he could become a free agent after the 2016 season. He and the Indians were scheduled for an arbitration hearing on February 17 in order to determine whether he would receive his requested $3.8 million salary or the $2.7 million the Indians offered him.

Last season Brantley hit .284 with 10 HR, 73 RBI and .728 OPS in 151 games. In 514 games with the Indians he owns a .277 average with 26 homers, 212 RBI and .711 OPS. His steady play, clutch hitting and versatility in the outfield has made him a core member of the roster and one the Indians apparently want to keep around for longer. 

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User Comments

February 11, 2014 - 7:57 PM EST
Wow! How Times have changed. Giving big money to a weak hitting corner outfielder. Brantley is this generations John Lowenstein or George Vukovich. What a joke!
February 11, 2014 - 10:17 AM EST
Paying Brantley $5M in 2014 though....makes me wonder if the Tribe is throwing in the towel on making one last free agent splash and instead using the last bit of money to just lock up current players. The extra $2M or so they are giving Brantley may not seem like much, but with the Tribe so close to last year's opening day payroll already, starting to make me think a Ubaldo, Santana, or Burnett deal is very unlikely at this point...

Could give Masterson $12M in 2014 now (even more than he asked for) as part of an extension and still keep the payroll around $85M for 2014. And could give Kipnis $1M or so even (again as part of an extension )and keep the payroll in check.

Doesn't give me a ton of confidence for 2014 but long-term may be the smarter move (at least with Kipnis)...
February 11, 2014 - 9:53 AM EST
And these signing bonuses have been around for awhile. The Indians had signing bonuses with Sizemore and Peralta when they signed their long term extensions to avoid arbitration.
February 11, 2014 - 9:52 AM EST
The signing bonuses are only for players with arbitration years remaining. Done pretty much specifically to lower the arbitration numbers for future players. Really doesn't effect the player. Essentially Brantley is getting a flat amount per year: $5M in 2014, $5M in 2015, $6.5M in 2016 and $7.5M in 2017.
February 11, 2014 - 8:42 AM EST
Is this going to be the new norm where clubs will begin to frontload a contract to take advantage of player's WAR when he is young and most productive in his peak time frame?

We see by back loading a contract when a players numbers start declining the team get stuck with that huge salary.
February 11, 2014 - 12:20 AM EST
You are correct Matt. Just checked and indeed Brantley will earn all of his signing bonus this season. So he is getting $3.5M plus the $1.5M base for a total $5M toward the payroll in 2014. The dividing up of the signing bonus over the life of the guaranteed years of the deal is simply for CBA purposes and how it goes in the books as what the player earned in salary each year and determining arbitration figures. While Brantley will get $5M from the Indians in 2014, it goes in the books as $2.375M. An interesting way to frontload a deal and actually bog down arbitration figures.
February 11, 2014 - 12:06 AM EST

I could be wrong, but I believe I read something when Kershaw's deal was announced that said the salary for an ARB-eligible player based on service time was considered when comparing for deciding arbitration cases. In other words, teams are pushing for these signing bonuses so that only the base salary is used to determine ARB salaries, driving down ARB costs league-wide. So Brantley's compensation as a first time ARB player is only $1.5M.
February 10, 2014 - 11:52 PM EST
Taking the signing bonus and moving it out over the 4 guaranteed years you get:

$2.375M in 2014, $5.875M in 2015, $7.375M in 2016, $8.375M in 2017, and $11M (option picked up) or $1M (buyout) in 2018.
February 10, 2014 - 11:43 PM EST
I updated the piece with the contract breakdown. I've never understood the reasoning for signing bonuses in ML contracts since they are pro-rated over the life of the deal. Might be a tax thing.
February 10, 2014 - 11:33 PM EST
Hermise, where are you seeing a signing bonus?
February 10, 2014 - 11:13 PM EST
woops, nevermind. Forgot the new CBA spreads out the signing bonus. So he'll get $2.375M this year....

with this plus Pestano losing his arby case...I have the Tribe's payroll under $80M (though depends highly on Masterson's case obviously)....
February 10, 2014 - 10:53 PM EST
$1.5M salary for 2014 and $3.5M signing bonus....haven't seen if all the signing bonus is upfront but if so, that's a big chunk to commit to 2014. Change from the backloaded deals we've seen lately.
February 10, 2014 - 10:33 PM EST
If the breakdown of the contract is correct than the Indians have received a good value on Brantley for the next 3 years. His contract also provides value to other MLB teams if the Indians ever decide to trade him.
February 10, 2014 - 9:53 PM EST
Looks like a fair deal....though curious to see the breakdown and ultimately what the Indians will be on the hook for in his fourth and final year. I am guessing a breakdown something like this: $3M in 2014, $5M in 2015, $7M in 2016 and $9M in 2017 with a $1M buyout included with the $11M club option for 2018.
February 10, 2014 - 9:33 PM EST
Completely agree, it seems like a very fair deal for both sides. I'm curious how it actually breaks down, yr-to-yr.

I don't think the Tribe will trade Bourn. I've petitioned for it, just to free up some salary bc I'm convinced they need more pitching, but it makes sense for the Tribe to hold onto Bourn bc he is / was a premier FA signing. Trading him could hurt a future FA - ie they don't want to start a reputation as the Marlins north.

Back to. Brantley, glad they've settled this, hope it goes this smoothly with Kipnis in the future and Masterson too.
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 9:29 PM EST
Nice signing by the Indians- certainly a very fair, solid offer for both.
February 10, 2014 - 9:21 PM EST
Details are out. 4 years, $25M, 5th year option for $11M. Very fair deal for club and player. Good job by FO.
February 10, 2014 - 9:07 PM EST

First of all, great name.

As to your first question, Brantley's relatively low ceiling would really limit what I would commit to him as a GM. He's a really nice everyday OF but doesn't provide the kind of elite defense to be a first division CF, and doesn't provide the kind of power or on base abilities to make him a first division corner OF. If he stays healthy, you assume he would make something like $3.5M in ARB this year, $5.5M next year, and $8M in 2016. Extending that out, if he stays healthy and remains a 3-win player over those 3 years, he probably gets a 3-year deal in the 12M/year range. So you get a little discount on an FA year in exchange for the piece of mind for Brantley of having a guaranteed deal. If I were the GM, I wouldn't go beyond 4/26 with a very team friendly option, but I'm not going to complain if it's 28 or 30.

For the second question, I don't think the Indians have any intention of dealing Bourn, they're just locking Brantley up for what he's worth. His worth would go up some playing in CF, but his defense has never been so good in CF that it would lead to a big pay day.
February 10, 2014 - 8:44 PM EST
Agreed, Willie. Nothing wrong with it, assuming it's 4/30 or less. He's a nice, 2-3 win player with some upside, since the deal covers his prime: age 27-31 seasons, and none of his decline years.
February 10, 2014 - 8:44 PM EST
Question for someone more knowledgeable than me: Any chance the Indians are doing this now knowing they may trade Bourn and move Brantley back to CF in the near future, which would otherwise have drastically increased his arb/FA salary?
February 10, 2014 - 8:41 PM EST
I'm with you Matthew, that's about what I was thinking. So what would you commit to Brantley if you were the GM? He is still under team control for a few years, and he doesnt profile as the kind of player who will break the bank at arbitration. 4 yrs 24M with a player friendly option/buyout or 4 yrs 26M with a team friendly option/buyout is right where I land.

yourtribe, Kip basically has that contract already with team options every year just to take him through his arb years. Masterson should get nearly 3 times as much to cover a few years of FA. The Indians would have to get them at a hefty discount right now to make it worth committing that kind of money.
February 10, 2014 - 8:30 PM EST
I'd basically agree, my guess is 4/24 to 4/30. He's a very good player, nothing wrong with extending Brantley.

I'd love to see Kipnis and Masterson get signed next. Masterson is seemingly more and more unlikely though.
February 10, 2014 - 8:13 PM EST
great. solid player.

now lock up kipnis and masterson.

February 10, 2014 - 8:12 PM EST
I'll guess it's around 4 years, $26M with a $12M 5th year option, and a $1.5 or $2M buyout. Could see it as high as 4 years, $30M.

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