Rumblings began late Monday afternoon that Michael Brantley and the Cleveland Indians were nearing an agreement on a contract extension. By Monday evening the news had been confirmed. The two sides completed a four year extension, valued at $25 Million, that includes a team option for a fifth season at $11 Million.
The agreement will allow the two sides to avoid their arbitration hearing that had been scheduled for later this week.
Cleveland now has some cost certainty for Brantley’s three arbitration years and his first free agent season. The deal’s terms reportedly break down as: $1.5 Million (2014), $5 Million (2015), $6.5 Million (2016), and $7.5 Million (2017). He’ll also receive a $3.5 Million signing bonus.
Acquired following the 2008 season as the player to be named later in Cleveland’s trade that sent C.C. Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers, Brantley has hit .277/.330/.382 over the course of his career since first debuting with the Indians in 2009. This past season he hit a career-best 10 HR, while batting .284/.332/.396 in 611 PA after sliding over to left field once the team signed Michael Bourn a year ago. He’s solid defensively in either left or center field, but not among the game’s elite defenders.
Brantley’s yet to fully establish himself as a major offensive piece of the Indians lineup, but there’s reason to be optimistic about the progress that the 26 year old may still make. His value extends beyond his bat, but if he’s able to further develop then this extension could look like a bargain for Cleveland in the long run.