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Deal or No Deal: Justin Masterson

Nov 05, 2012 -- 2:31pm

By: T.J. Zuppe

With several Cleveland Indians potentially on the trading block this off-season, we will take a look at a handful of the players that could be on the move this winter. Today, we look at the pros and cons of the Tribe looking to deal right-handed starting pitcher Justin Masterson.

Reasons to deal Masterson:

·      Masterson has shown signs of brilliance over the last two seasons; most notably in 2011 when it appeared he had taken steps forward as club ace. That type of potential could force some pitching hungry teams to salivate.

·      The 27-year old (28 in March) righty is still under team control for two more seasons, making him a valuable commodity to whoever deals for him. His youth may outweigh his struggles to a team that believes they can get him back on track.

·      He is also largely affordable ($3.83M last season), even to smaller market clubs when he pitches up to his capabilities. Of course, that could also be a significant reason to hold on to Masterson, as well.

·      The Oakland Athletics were able to get a good package in return for recent young starting pitching, leading to believe desperate teams are out there seeking young rotational help – and they are willing to overspend to get it.

·      At times, his awkward delivery gets out of whack mechanically. Because he occasionally loses his arm slot and release point, he may always be an up and down hurler.

Reasons to keep Masterson:

·      New manager Terry Francona is taking it as a personal challenge to ensure Masterson and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez get it turned around. His familiarity with the big righty may help get him back closer to 2011 form – a campaign that saw him post a 3.21 ERA in 216 innings of work.

·      Masterson has become a work-horse, eating innings at a rate just over 200 in the last three seasons.

·      The Tribe is not in any position to give away starting pitching, especially with concerns about the return of Carlos Carrasco from Tommy John and how Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber will respond to hitter adjustments in 2013.

·      Cleveland would be selling low following his 15 loss, 4.93 ERA year in 2012.

·      It would be difficult to deal Masterson only to watch him realize his potential in another city. There is still ace-like stuff hidden amongst his inconsistencies.

The Verdict:

·      He is no untouchable but unless blown away by a team’s offer, it is hard to justify a club with pitching problems selling low on someone with his talent level. Dangle - but do not deal.

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