arbitration schmarbitration! we got four more years and an option baby! boy did this news catch me by surprise today. i had planned to write a much different blog once Michael's contract for 2014 got settled. now i have to change directions because Michael is here to stay through at least 2017. (barring a trade...don't even think about it lol) this is very exciting news for Indians fans, particularly his #1 fan. this also means i will be blogging about Michael for the next four years =D
the story goes like this. Michael was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his major league career this offseason. he filed for arbitration on January 14 and exchanged numbers with the Indians on January 17. Brantley filed for 3.8 million dollars, while the Indians low-balled him with an offer of 2.7 million. and today, on February 10, Michael and his agent have agreed to a multi-year extension with the Indians. his new contract is for 4 years at 25 million dollars, with a club option for a 5th year at 11 million dollars (and a 1 million dollar buyout).
here is the full contract breakdown:
signing bonus – 3.5 million
2014 salary – 1.5 million + signing bonus = 5 million
2015 salary – 5 million
2016 salary – 6.5 million
2017 salary – 7.5 million
2018 salary – 11 million option/1 million buyout
when i did my guesstimate offseason calculating about what i thought all the Indians would earn in 2014, i kept my salary for Michael a little low (just like the Indians did with their first offer apparently) so i wouldn't be too disappointed. because he signed a multi-year deal, his 2014 salary ended up being even less than the Indians initially offered, but when you add in the signing bonus, he's going to get a cool 5 million. that's one hell of a raise from last year. holy shit that's awesome! lol i'm not really sure what the point of the signing bonus is. if it's not evenly distributed throughout all the years of the deal, why not just get rid of it and give him a 5 million salary outright in 2014? but whatever. 5 mill is 5 mill no matter how you break it down.
i gotta be honest though. i think Michael and his agent undersold. fans who don't think Michael is anything special will think i'm crazy and disagree with me. but anyone who has read my blogs should see where i'm coming from. if Michael maintains his consistency and clutch hitting, when he's 30 years old in 2017, he is gonna be so pissed that he's only making 7.5 million dollars. and if he becomes even better and continues to be one of the best players on the team, the Indians will be lol-ing at the steal they just got.
the Indians firmly believe in giving contracts to players based on what they think a player will do for them in the future, and not what they have done in the past. but it's hard to ignore the fact that Michael has been one of if not the most consistent hitter on the team for the last 2 years. having a track record like that has to factor into salary somewhere. hitting .375 with RISP and recording 11 outfield assists last year doesn't hurt Michael's case either.
let's get back to the original 2.7 offer for a minute, keeping the Indians contract policy in mind. they felt Michael was only going to perform 2.7 million dollars worth in 2014? insert my laughter here. man this team can be cheap. or else they just need a new accountant. Michael got paid the league minimum last year and outperformed many players on the team who got paid in the millions. i don't care if they are about to approach their max budget for the year, you can't gyp players money because you (wrongfully) overpaid certain other guys in previous contract deals. that's not my boy's fault. that 2.7 offer was insulting, and the Indians should really consider themselves lucky that Michael didn't force them to go to an arbitration hearing, which was scheduled for February 17, because he could have easily won.
players are usually hesitant to go to a hearing because they're fair game to get picked apart by the team with the details of what their weaknesses and cons are. in that respect, it was smart of Michael and his agent not to drag the process out and have to hear all that, which could have had an effect on a future long-term deal. although, i believe the positives Michael brings to the team far outweigh his negatives and i think the arbitrators would have seen that too.
had they gone to a hearing, the Indians definitely would have harped on Michael's lack of power. to that i always say, no, Michael is not a 30-40 home run hitter. but if he can continue to hit in the clutch and drive in 70-80 runs every year by hitting singles and doubles, that's a good hitter and you should happily take that without complaint. who cares about home runs driving guys in if you can get them home by other ways? people are a little too obsessed with home runs. they aren't everything in baseball. don't forget Michael also plays a mean left field AND center field. you can feel very comfortable with him at either spot in the outfield. so i don't wanna hear that there are Michael Brantleys on every team around the league and he's replaceable, because on a Cleveland team, he's a rarity. and he's a keeper. clearly the Indians recognized that, along with his value, or they wouldn't have tried negotiating an extension.
however, for the Indians to think that four years from now Michael is only going to be worth 7.5 million dollars doesn't sit well with me. i know he's going to continue being a reliable consistent hitter. i don't have the confidence to say that about many other players on the team at this point. i think the ball was totally in Michael's court here. maybe i'm naïve but i think he could have haggled. his agent is absolutely giddy over this deal right now, and i guess he should be, but could he have done better? the Indians assumedly hoped to buy out his future arbitration years and at least one year of free agency, which they did, but Michael probably could have asked for a little more money in those last 2 years or held out on the deal. it wouldn't have been a terrible idea for him to play one more year and then sign an extension, but i have a feeling that that 5 million dollars for this upcoming season was too exciting to turn down lol
when looking at the broad spectrum within the organization, i still firmly believe Michael is underpaid for his production, especially compared to what certain other players make and what they provide the team in terms of overall numbers. yes i know experience and power factor into salary numbers, but when you look at what Bourn is going to make versus what he did last season, things don't quite add up. Brantley remains the least paid among Indians outfielders. how's that for irony? arguably our best all around outfielder is making the least money. it's not an uncommon thing in the world of baseball i guess, but you know i don't care for it.
i am definitely happy that Michael is now signed through the 2017 season. frankly i had my doubts that this would happen this year. i really was not expecting him to sign an extension. i thought both sides would be a little hesitant to make more than a one-year commitment right now. and i was okay with letting him get another year under his belt and adding to his resume, figuring that would drive up his salary for the next contract. but it's obvious that Michael is not afraid of commitment, and i'm totally thrilled that he's dedicated to the team and wants to continue to be a core piece of the Cleveland Indians organization.
so congratulations Michael for becoming a millionaire ballplayer. i truly am happy for you. you deserve this and all the great things to come. this is just the beginning for you. you're in the prime of your career and you will only keep getting better. and i personally can't wait to watch your continued development. in the meantime, enjoy your money and use your millions wisely. put it away for your daughter and step-son's college funds, and don't let that wifey of yours blow it all on designer handbags and shoes. i'm only kidding. sort of... =P