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Indians, Masterson have wide gap in arbitration

- Associated Press - Friday, January 17, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - Indians All-Star starter Justin Masterson has asked for $11.8 million in salary arbitration, a figure that's $3.75 million above the club's offer for 2014.

Masterson's gap - Cleveland is offering $8.05 million - is the largest among pending cases.

Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 appearances last season, when he was Cleveland's most dependable starter. He was sidelined late in the season with a side injury, but returned to help the Indians clinch a wild-card spot and make the postseason for the first time since 2007.

The Indians have discussed a long-term deal with Masterson's agents. The 28-year-old has developed into a front-of-the-rotation pitcher, and with Ubaldo Jimenez currently a free agent, Masterson is clearly Cleveland's ace - a bargaining chip in negotiations.

Earlier Friday, the Indians avoided salary arbitration with reliever Marc Rzepczynski by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1,375,000.

The left-hander posted a 0.89 ERA in 27 games last season for Cleveland, which acquired Rzepczynski (zep-chin-ski) on July 30 from St. Louis. The 28-year-old was brought in to help Cleveland's issues in getting out left-handed hitters and he held lefties to just a .159 average.

Rzepczynski was one of six Cleveland players to file for arbitration. Earlier this week, the team worked out a 1-year deal worth $1.25 million with reliever Josh Outman.

Left fielder Michael Brantley, who batted .284 with 10 homers and 73 RBIs in 2013 has asked for $3.8 million, with the Indians countering with an offer of $2.7 million

Pitchers Vinnie Pestano ($1.45 million vs. $975,000) and Josh Tomlin ($975,000 vs. $800,000) also swapped figures.

The Indians haven't gone to an arbitration hearing since 1991.

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