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Indians trade rumors: Cleveland 'very willing' to move Justin Masterson

The impending free agent could be an interesting buy-low candidate for a number of contending clubs.

Joe Robbins

The Cleveland Indians are reportedly shopping right-hander Justin Masterson, as Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan tweets that the club is "very willing" to move the impending free agent. The Indians are seeking "young, controllable" starting pitchers in return.

Masterson is scheduled to return from the disabled list Friday, meaning he won't have another opportunity to showcase his value before Thursday's trade deadline. He has been on the DL since July 8th, dealing with inflammation in his right knee that led him to exit his July 7th start against the Yankees in the third inning.

The 29-year-old Masterson is in the midst of the worst season of his career, with a 5.51 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 1.66 K/BB, and 0.9 WAR in 98 innings pitched. Coming into the season, he was viewed as Cleveland's ace, as he was tremendous in 2013, posting a 3.45 ERA, 110 ERA+, 3.35 FIP, 2.57 K/BB, and 3.5 WAR. Some of his struggles may be due to the knee injury, which has supposedly been "nagging" him since his second start of the season. His poor performance this year could make him an intriguing acquisition for a contender looking to upgrade the back of their rotation, as he provides a good deal of upside and is unlikely to cost too much due to his contract status.

Masterson has roughly $4 million remaining on his 2014 salary, and is eligible to become a free agent this offseason, making him a rental for any acquiring team. The Indians were reportedly discussing an extension with Masterson over the winter, but talks fell through in March as Cleveland began to worry about his recent drop in velocity.  There is still time for the two sides to get something done, and Cleveland could still keep Masterson regardless, potentially offering him a qualifying offer following the season in hopes that he accepts it and looks to rebuild his stock for the 2015/16 offseason.