The Tigers had no problem handling Justin Masterson in his career with the Cleveland Indians, and now they might sign him. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that all four of Masterson's former AL Central rivals are interested in the 29 year old right-hander. Hoynes reports that Masterson is interested in a one year deal in order to rebuild his value after a poor showing in 2014.
Masterson is 2-9 with a 5.57 ERA in 82 1/3 innings against the Tigers, but has a 4.24 ERA and 3.89 FIP in 1141 2/3 career innings overall. He was awful in 2014, allowing a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings for the Indians and St. Louis Cardinals. Now a free agent, the Indians have not shown any interest in bringing him back into the fold.
Masterson and the Indians tried to negotiate a long-term extension last offseason, when he asked for a reported $17 million per season. It made sense for him to ask for the moon then, as Masterson was coming off an All-Star season in 2013. He allowed a 3.45 ERA and 3.35 FIP in 193 innings for the Indians that season, helping them to a Wild Card berth. His 1.20 WHIP that season was a career best, and it was the second time in three years that he had an ERA below 3.50.
Masterson's command has been an issue throughout his career, and it was worse than ever in 2014. He walked a career high 4.83 batters per nine innings last season, resulting in his worst FIP since 2008. He has also had trouble against left-handed hitters, allowing them to hit .287/.367/.427 with 67 home runs in just under 2800 career plate appearances. Lefties were even better against him last season, hitting .312/.408/.502.
There are positives to be had, though. Masterson has been a ground ball machine in his career, generating grounders at a 56.6 percent clip. He doesn't allow many home runs, having never given up 20 gopher balls in a season. He also has the stuff to generate strikeouts, and was able to fan a batter per inning in 2013. If everything clicks, he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Even a modest improvement could result in some value, as he would be a solid innings eater in the back of the rotation.