|photo courtesy of @SportsTimeOhio on twitter|
"Josh and Michael have been integral parts of our team for the last number of years," President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said via
Jordan Bastian's indians.com article shortly after the news broke. "and we're excited to be able to have both guys back with us in 2018. they'll hopefully help contribute to us winning a World Series."
"going into the season, [Michael] had some shoulder issues that really didn't affect him a whole lot for the majority of the season," continued Antonetti. "and he performed at an exceedingly high level in the first half and earned an All-Star berth based upon that performance."
pertaining to Michael's ankle, Antonetti revealed, "there's a high likelihood of success with the surgery that he had performed. so, we're very optimistic that Michael will be able to contribute for a meaningful part of next year. and, as we've seen, when he's on the field, he's a very productive player, and we think there's a good chance that he'll be on the field for the majority of next year."
after the Indians were eliminated from the American League Division Series on October 11, Michael was unsure of what was to come, yet seemed determined to remain with the Indians. "i started a quest back in 2009," he declared in Bastian's article on indians.com. "i want to finish it the right way. i don't want to go out like this if it's my choice. it's not. i just look forward to hopefully being back here with this group of guys. i have amazing relationships with everybody in this locker room. great teammates. great team. i just look forward to being part of it for a long time."
some of the events that occurred that night had me utterly convinced Michael's time with the Tribe had ended, and i also believed he likely knew it as well. when he went around and hugged every player at their locker, i suspected he wasn't simply consoling players over the loss, but that he was saying his goodbyes to everybody, because that's not something guys normally do at the end of a season if they're returning. and, as i wrote in my ALDS blog (linked above), Michael had every player's signature on his walking boot, too. it all seemed very peculiar. maybe that was done just in case, but i am overjoyed that things turned out the way they did and that Michael is still an Indian for another year!
leading up to this decision, it was not easy to guess what the team was going to do. over the last few weeks, all i heard was how the organization wanted Michael to be a member of the Indians for 2018 and beyond and that both parties wanted to work something out. i even saw a few writers express a confident belief that Michael would be retained. i, on the other hand, was apprehensive and prepped myself for the worst.
on October 13, Antonetti and manager Terry Francona sat down with the local media to discuss some topics following the Tribe's early postseason exit. regarding Michael's club option, Antonetti admitted in Bastian's blog on bastian.mlblogs.com, "it's a significant decision for us, but as we told Michael, we've always envisioned him being part of the organization, not only for 2018, but beyond. that's been our mindset from the beginning. there's a process that we need to work through with making those decisions. at the same time, Michael needs to go through the process of just getting healthy and figuring out what his plan needs to be. there is no player on our team that goes about things better than Michael does: the teammate that he is, how hard he's worked and prepared. he sets that standard for our guys. we have a profound appreciation for what he's done and how he does it."
once Michael had surgery on his right ankle to repair his deltoid ligaments on October 18, however, keeping him became a bit more difficult and uncertain and Antonetti did not offer any indication about which way they were leaning. "that's something we're still working through," he disclosed on October 19 in another of Bastian's blogs on bastian.mlblogs.com. "what we know about Michael is, when he's healthy, he's been really productive. so, the things we have to weigh are the expected level of productivity and how available he'll be to perform. those are the things that we'll have to weigh, and that's what we'll spend some time here working through over the next couple weeks."
"i'm not sure it's productive for me to get into hypotheticals," Antonetti went on. "i think it would make the most sense for us to work through that option decision and then deal with anything at that point. as i've always told you and shared when we got together at the end of the year, we've always envisioned Michael being part of our organization, not only in 2018, but beyond.
"i think the good news about this is we have clarity about the path forward with his ankle and the outcomes with this surgery are really good. based upon the time frame we've been given from the doctors, we expect him to be ready for the start of the season or very close to the start of the season next year, which would make him available to us. i think, what we've seen, when Michael has been healthy and on the field, he's been an exceedingly productive player and he continues to be a critical and important person within our organization."
with Michael not going into the offseason healthy, i really worried that his future with the Indians was in jeopardy. i pictured the team declining his option because of the price tag, which the Tribe agreed to more than three and a half years ago, and instead going through with the $1 million buyout.
Terry Pluto had a much more positive outlook on the situation in his Terry's Talkin' column on cleveland.com on October 21, writing that he expected the Indians to pick up Michael's option despite his recent surgical procedure. "Brantley is their guy. they believe in him. it's a one-year deal, so they can let him go after 2018 if there are more injuries." Pluto added, "if they try to rework his contract, they believe Brantley will elect to become a free agent." he additionally remarked that the Tribe knew Michael would easily receive $11 million or more per year on the open market if they allowed him to become a FA. while Pluto had the incorrect amount, this is what kept hope alive for me that the Indians would pick up Michael's option. Terry's the man!👴
my main fear was that the Indians might try to restructure his contract, Michael would say no, and the two would part ways. maybe they did approach him with a new deal and he said no, and then they essentially "caved in" to the $12 mill option in order to hold on to him for one more season. at this point, how the decision was reached doesn't matter--all that matters is Brantley is back! and yes he did earn that payday over his career, so i'm glad he got it.😉
now let's flashback for a minute to see how and when this club option came about in the first place. Michael signed a contract extension on February 10, 2014, that was worth $25 million for four years. besides that, there was a club option for a fifth year, worth $11 million if the Indians picked it up. otherwise, if they chose to decline it, they would pay Michael a $1 million buyout fee.
breaking it down annually, here is what his salary originally looked like between 2014-2018:
2014 - $1.5 million + $3.5 million signing bonus = $5 million
2015 - $5 million
2016 - $6.5 million
2017 - $7.5 million
2018 - $11 million option or $1 million buyout
and can i just say, if you click the above linked blog from 2014, it's almost funny to re-read some of the stuff i wrote. when the announcement was made that Michael signed a contract extension, i outright stated that Michael's agent undersold him. that's really what i felt. and i kind of disliked that he signed before 2014. i wanted him to wait one more year before getting into a deal like that. and he definitely should have because, in hindsight, he was really underpaid for what he did in 2014 and 2015. he was the best hitter on the team in those two seasons, but he wasn't getting the big bucks like some of his other, less productive teammates were. on the contrary, for him to have received what he did in 2016 and this past year while only playing 101 games combined, i guess he lucked out. then again, who thought he would wind up with back-to-back serious injuries? you couldn't have predicted that in 2014 if you tried.😔
getting back to the money now, some of that changed when Michael finished 3rd in the 2014 AL MVP race. his top five placement earned him an extra $1 million on the base salary of his final two years of the contract. i know some people were confused about the cost of his option for 2018, but cleveland.com beat writer Paul Hoynes pointed out the million dollar increase the day after the MVP results came out, and then i of course wrote a revised blog about Michael's contract with the salary increase. the bottom line is, Michael's team option for 2018 is $12 million and has been for the past three years. no adjustments occurred with the $1 million buyout.
the "MVPerk," as i called it, also meant that Michael grossed $8.5 million for the 2017 season. that would have been a steal if he hadn't suffered an ankle injury. #fact
by the way, earlier this morning, Bastian tweeted how fangraphs.com had Michael's value in 2017 at $12.6 million for the 90 games that he played. check out the fangraphs link if you never have because it's actually pretty interesting!
so now that we know Michael's coming back, could the left fielder be in for a position change in 2018? there has been a lot of speculation that he may become a 1st baseman or DH.🙄 according to Ryan Lewis' ohio.com article, Antonetti conveyed, "i think first and foremost we just want Michael to get healthy and continue his rehab this offseason and as he gets further in that process, we can begin thinking about alternatives and where he may fit best on the team. i think the one thing we know is he's a really productive offensive player when he's on the field and in the batter's box and that he's got some versatility."
many fans are already up in arms about the decision to give Michael all that money and whining that the Indians will no longer be able to bring back free agents Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce (which is not necessarily true), and i do not want to hear it.🙉 when Michael fully recovers from his ankle surgery--which he will, exactly like he recovered from his biceps tenodesis (surgery)--and has an amazing 2018 season, i'm gonna need y'all haters to take several seats and zip your lip.🤐 if you don't support him now, don't fake support him next year and act like you had his back the whole time. kthanksbye.👋
enjoy that $12 mill, Brant! you deserve it and i'm so happy for you!💰💰
leave a comment below if you're excited that Michael's option was picked up by the Tribe and can't wait to see him on the field again in 2018!💭
for all the latest news and information about Michael's recovery from right ankle surgery this offseason, follow me on twitter @clevelandgirl23. and if you want to be on my subscription list, all you need to do is enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of the page. then you'll get notifications in your inbox every time i post something new!📧