Antonetti, Masterson discuss stalled talks

Here are two transcripts from today’s interviews about the stalled talks between the Indians and All-Star starter Justin Masterson. GM Chris Antonetti met with reporters to discuss the matter on Friday morning and Masterson talked about the situation after his outing against the Rockies in the afternoon.

Chris AntonettiIndians general manager Chris Antonetti

What can you tell us about the contract talks breaking down?

“I met with Justin this morning. I think at this point, we both agreed to table discussions on a multi-year contract and potentially revisit it down the road. But, right now, our focus will be on preparing for the season.”

Were you hopeful that you would get something done before Opening Day?

“That was our hope. I think both sides made a really earnest effort to try to find common ground and get something done. In the end, we just weren’t able to align.”

Is the door still open?

“We’ll always leave the door open. We’ll never close any doors. It stems from our profound belief in Justin. He embodies everything we want our players to be. He’s a great teammate, a great person and an exceptional performer. I know there remains a desire on our side for him to be here long-term, and I think he’d like to be here long-term. That’s a good common ground to start with. It’s just, at this moment in time, we weren’t able to align on the right contract form.”

What do you say to fans who think this means the talks are completely over?

“We’re fortunate that Justin is here for this year and we’re not going to close any doors. There will be other junctures in time that we can explore an extension with him. That’s just not right now.”

Would you revisit it during the season?

“Our preference is, during the season, to allow everybody to focus on the season and not have any distractions. But, if there’s the right time in the future to re-open things, we’re open to it.”

How much did future payroll obligations play a role in talks breaking down?

“That’s a consideration. I think the thing that we want, and I know Justin wants, is to be a part of a championship-caliber team. So what we need to do is look at how we fairly compensate players, but fit them within the constructs of what we expect our payrolls will be moving forward.”

Do you view future payroll as an obstacle in the talks?

“Not as an obstacle, but a consideration. We made an earnest effort to try to get something done. I’ll stay away from the specifics of things, but we made a very competitive offer within the marketplace for contract extensions for starting pitchers.”

Are the numbers being reported accurate?

“We’ll stay consistent in not commenting on specifics, but I would say what’s been written isn’t accurate, or at least what I’ve seen written in terms of values is not accurate.”

Was there a point when you thought you’d get a deal done?

“There were times in the process where we felt we were closer than others. But, again, it’s one of the reasons why I refrain from commenting is close doesn’t mean you get a deal done.”

What have you thought of how Masterson’s handled all of this during the spring?

“Justin is incredible that way. He’s been able to compartmentalize it. It hasn’t affected in any way the work that he’s done, the teammates that he is, how he interacts with players, coaches, the front office The dynamic has been the same. You wouldn’t know that Justin was working through any other considerations contract wise by the way he’s gone about his business. He’s been a consummate professional.”

How did the talk go with Masterson this morning?

“He was great. I think Justin expressed appreciation in our desire to keep him here beyond this year and appreciated the efforts that both sides made to try to get something done. It’s been a fairly lengthy process that dates back, really, to the start of the year.”

Is it wrong for fans to think this is CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee all over again?

“Justin’s a big part of our team. He’s going to start Opening Day for us and we’re counting on him to lead us ot a postseason and then , hopefully, to a World Series. That’s, right now, our focus. Where things lead ater that, and if we have another opportunity to revisit things with Justin, we’re open to doing that.”

What was Masterson’s mood this morning?

“It was a very typical morning for Justin and very typical interaction. He handled things as he always does.”

Are you prepared that this could be a bad PR hit for the team?

“Our job is to build the best team we can and make the decisions we think are in the best interest of the organization moving forward. I’m hopeful that our fans remain excited about the team we have. Justin’s a big part of that.”

Was it fair to use the Homer Bailey contract as a comparison?

“That’s one of the contract extensions that’s in the marketplace. We were very cognizant of that contract, but there are others. I feel like we made an earnest attempt to get something done and offered Justin a contract that was fair relative to the marketplace. But we didn’t attach, nor do we ever for any negotiation, attach it to any one contract specifically.”

Are you any closer on an extension with Jason Kipnis?

“Again, I’ll refrain from commenting on specific guys.”

What aspect of the deal with Masterson posed problems?

“There were parts of the deal that we overlapped on, where we were able to find common ground. We just couldn’t get all the pieces to fit together. We examined a variety of different structures and lengths and values, but we just couldn’t find that right combination.”

Could that change?

“Sure. Yeah. As you get more information, circumstances change and evolve. But I wouldn’t expect anything in the short-erm to change.”


MastersonAll-Star starter Justin Masterson

How disappointed are you that a deal didn’t happen?

“It’s just for right now. There’s still time. The season doesn’t end hopefully until the World Series is over. Although we talked, while it’s not going to be probably talked about within the next few months or something, there’s still always potential to make something happen. Even though it didn’t happen right now, I’m not overly disappointed. It’s kind of like, ‘All right, we’ll just push it back a little bit.’ We’ll go out and slice and dice and have some fun.”

Is there motivation to still get something done?

“We’ll cotinue to work and see in due time. But, again, it’s always been one of those where we enjoy each other, and you have some business things you have to work through. They’re not always going to meet up for each individual. I think we’ll continue to see how the season goes. Win the World Series and I’m sure we’ll probably be back here next year.”

Is the timing at least good in the sense that now you can focus on the season?

“I was never really concerned about it. You guys do a good job of making it all fired up. That’s fun. I don’t mind it. But, no, it is nice a little bit to not have to wonder what we’re doing, this, that or the other. But again, the whole time it’s been this year we’re going out and pitching. It doesn’t really matter what’s going to take place. We’re here this year and we’re going to do our thing, and there’s still that hope that we can all have that things may happen for next year.”

After showing a willing to sign a shorter deal, are you surprised they didn’t get something done?

“You look at it and you have the years here and there, but there’s also the amounts that are out there. Although you’re taking less years, where do you put the amounts to make it fair? So, is it still fair? You’re giving up a couple things. You’re just working through all that. And, though, it might be giving up some things on my end, there’s still tough things that they have to work through on their end. They’ve got to run a ballclub. They’ve got to do a lot of things. Again, if we go win a World Series, I think things could work out pretty good.”

How’d your conversation go with Antonetti this morning?

“I gave him a hug and we shook hands. It was cordial. We get along very well. I get along with everyone here well. It was one of those like, hey, we worked through it. We tried hard. We enjoy each other. But at this moment, we can’t necessarily make it happen. That’s fine. We’ll continue to go through the season. The doors are technically closed, but they all have doorknobs that you can at one point open again.”

The Indians don’t typically negotiation during the season. Would you?

“That’s what they always say. I’m sure they’re probably working on deals that they started in January, that they say they won’t talk about. That’s why you have people who do those things. If things change, whether or not on our end or their end, hey, why not? It’s not like it’s going to bother me, and they’re not playing, so it’s not like it’s going to bother them too much. You don’t want it to be a distraction, but if it’s not, then the doors are always open.”



Truly disappointing that a deal didn’t get done. Imagine, a player WANTING to stay here, and will do whatever it takes to stay, play for less years, yet a deal still can’t get done? Jordan, it’s hard not think about CC and Cliff Lee situation, I guess the only difference is Justin wants to stay here. But even in 2008, Indians were hoping to contend, only to trade Sabathia when the Indians were out of the race. This is never, ever a good PR move. I guess we will have to see, but if the Indians let Justin go, then the Indians will have to go get a “Justin Masterson” type. Oh wait.

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