On the verge of going to arbitration with a player for the first time since 1991, the Indians agreed to terms with their all-star shortstop Friday on a one-year contract worth $4.55 million.
The deal is $75,000 above the midpoint of what Cabrera was asking for at arbitration ($5.2 million) and what Cleveland was offering ($3.75 million). His arbitration hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Indians were happy to avoid taking that trip.
“We’re appreciative of Asdrubal’s contributions,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We certainly value him as a member of the organization and a member of our team. He was a key part of our team over the last few seasons, and we’re looking forward to him contributing in the time that he’s with us.
“How long that extends, it’s going to be at least two years, and it certainly could extend beyond that.”
The 26-year-old Cabrera, the Indians’ best player last season — .273, 25 home runs, 92 RBIs — was in Cleveland last week, reportedly negotiating a multiyear contract that did not come to fruition. The Indians, who control Cabrera’s rights through 2013, could still discuss a long-term deal this spring with their lone all-star from last season.
“We’re always open-minded on alternate contract structures with a variety of players,” Antonetti said. “If there’s something that makes sense, and there’s a value and term that makes sense for both parties, we’ll certainly explore it.”
The Indians were able to come to terms with all seven of their arbitration-eligible players this offseason — Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Justin Masterson, Joe Smith and Jack Hannahan. But all were one-year deals, leaving Cleveland without a player signed past the 2012 season.
That fact has fueled rumors that team owner Larry Dolan, who has been criticized for failing to spend competitively, is trying to sell the franchise.
Antonetti dispelled the notion.
“I think that’s just where we are right now and just the circumstances that have led us to this point,” he said. “There’s no hidden or ulterior motive behind that. I would expect that at some point we will have commitments that extend past 2012. Whether that happens at some point this offseason or at some point this spring or next offseason, we’ll see.
“But it’s not necessarily a calculated strategy. I think we as an organization and our ownership have demonstrated that when those commitments make sense, we’re certainly prepared to make them. And we’ll continue to evaluate those opportunities along the way.”
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