The Cleveland Indians have agreed to sign outfielder Michael Brantley to a four-year, $25 million contract extension that includes an $11 million team option for 2018, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com adds the year-by-year breakdown of the backloaded deal:
brantley breakdown: $3.5M sign bonus, $1.5M in '14, $5M in '15, $6.5M in '16, $7.5M in '17, $11M/$1M buyout in '18. $25M/4— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 11, 2014
Brantley, 26, was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter after hitting .284 with 10 HR and 73 RBI in 151 games with Cleveland last season. His new deal will buy out all three years of arbitration eligibility along with one free agent season, and the team option will keep him under Indians' control through the 2018 season.
After being acquired from the Brewers in the CC Sabathia deal after the 2008 season, Brantley broke into the majors with the Tribe in 2009 and has been a consistent producer over the past five seasons. In 514 games during that time, Brantley is a lifetime .277 hitter with 26 HR, 212 RBI, and 56 stolen bases while playing both left field and center field.
Brantley will be the Indians' starting left fielder for the considerable future, playing alongside Michael Bourn and David Mutphy in the team's outfield. Behind those three, the team has Ryan Raburn, Jeff Francoeur, Nyjer Morgan and Nick Swisher, making them one of the strongest teams in terms of outfield depth in all of baseball.
With Brantley locked up, the Indians will likely try to extend two other young players in the near future: Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson. While a deal with Kipnis could happen in the near future, a source indicates that there are no current discussions with Masterson after the sides decided to shelve talks earlier in the offseason.