For a long time the Cleveland Indians had a rotating shuffle at second base. It seems like other than the short period of time that Roberto Alomar had the position from 1999 to 2001, there have been a lot of names given a shot to try and man the position for the Tribe. Then in 2009 the Indians drafted young outfielder Jason Kipnis out of Arizona State University in the second round. Kipnis was converted to second base, and the Indians were on to something as a 2011 call-up to the Majors saw him show promise in the 36 games he played at the position.
Fast forward three years later, and Kipnis is not only set in stone at second base, but he’s now got a long-term deal from the Indians that was announced early Friday as the team gets ready for their home opener today at Progressive Field. Kipnis, who was playing the 2014 season for $554,900 before the deal, may have scored a deal in the $50 to $60 million range based on recent deals for infielders around Major League Baseball. The deal for the Indians isn’t their first dance into extensions as of late, as a new deal in February netted outfielder Michael Brantley four years and $25 million and catcher Yan Gomes inked a six-year deal worth $23 million on Monday. While Kipnis didn’t come as cheap as either of those two players, there’s no question the importance of the Indians getting a deal done with him now.
The 27-year-old lefty was one of two All-Star players for the Indians in 2013, hitting .284 with 36 doubles, four triples, 17 homers and 84 RBIs. He also stole 30 bases and scored 86 runs. He made a frantic push after a slow start with a blazing month of May and June to get selected to the All-Star affair. With the Kipnis deal done, the team will have one very important question still to answer about its young core. What about pitcher Justin Masterson, the current ace of the pitching staff? Masterson and the Indians reportedly ended talks about a new deal back on Mar. 21, and there’s been no chatter about the two coming to the table since then.
Even without Masterson having a new deal in place with the final year of his contract upon the Indians, getting Kipnis signed is a big deal for a young team looking to be even better in 2014.